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Tatebanko - The lost art of Paper Dioramas

Tatebanko is the Japanese art of making dioramas out of paper. Typically the diorama is housed inside a paper box and portrays some kind of scene. It was very popular in the 17th century but fell to the wayside and was almost lost to time. But, in recent years it has gained a revival and you can enjoy this wonderful pursuit with very little materials. You generally need a ruler, scissors, and glue or glue stick.



It was during a trip to Japan that I first learned about tatebanko. I was in a little shop that sold all kinds of paper art. And there they were, these beautiful little paper boxes with scenes inside. I was taken. Just amazing! I bought several of the kits so I could make my own. And I have been making them ever since.


Make a Scene box

It's a blank box that you can make. I give you the template to print up and put together. The secret here is what you put in it! I put the Grand Canyon in mine!
Make a Scene Box


Empty Tatebanko box

I have an empty tatebanko box that you can download and assemble if you want to make your own project. This is a fun way to get started in the hobby. The Empty Tatebanko Box

I also have a selection of Tatebanko Paper Dioramas that you can purchase of Amazon.com


Rapunzel Paper Diorama

Make a Rapunzel Paper Diorama (Tatebanko)

Here is an easy scene from the Grimm fairy tale Rapunzel that you can make. I give you everything in the template. You print it up and put it together. Make a Rapunzel Paper Diorama


Tatebanko WIzards Sanctum

Make a Tatebanko Wizard's Sanctum (paper diorama)

Tatebanko is the Japanese art of paper dioramas and it is quite wonderful. I have the packet all set for you. Download it, print it and put this paper diorama together. Make a Tatebanko Wizard's Sanctum


Tatebanko Astronomer - Make an easy stop motion animation paper diorama

Tatebanko Astronomer

This is a fun little animation project that uses the ancient japanese art of paper dioramas (tatebanko)- yet moves. I show you how. The Tatebanko Astronomer.


Scene box

Scene Box Tatebanko

This is a fun and easy tutorial that goes along with our rolling paper theatre of whimsy. These tatebanko's can be added to scenes in your theatre. In this tutorial we show how to make a tatebanko that's a little different from previous ones we've had. These boxes can really bring some life to your theater and the epic tales being told.


Adventure Time Tatebanko

Adventure Time Tatebanko

Here's a tatebanko that's exciting and full of adventure. Based upon the television show adventure time we have made a tatebanko that is fun and exciting to create. This is a great project for the whole family. Adventure Time Tatebanko


Halloween Tatebanko 2

Halloween Tatebanko 2

This is a fun little tatebanko project that is complete. You can download the packet, print it up and put it together. This is a haunted house tatebanko, which makes for a great Halloween project. Halloween Tatebanko 2


You shall not pass tatebanko

You shall not pass tatebanko

You shall not pass tatebanko, this is with Gandalf and the Balrog on the Bridge. This project also has a bonus little section on the back.


Gollum tatebanko

Gollum Tatebanko

New Tatebanko Project: Gollum in his cave. This is a neat little tatebanko project that shows gollum in his underground lair with the lake. A scene from the fellowship of the ring. It is a complete project. All you do is download the packet and assemble it. Gollum Tatebanko


Egyptian Tatebanko

Egyptian Tatebanko

Egyptian Tatebanko: This is a nice tatebanko project in Egypt. It shows the sphinx and the pyramids and it has a little caravan of camels walking across the desert. Egyptian Tatebanko


Halloween Tatebanko

Halloween Tatebanko

Tatebanko Halloween This is an easy and fun to make tatebanko project of a cemetary. Nice halloween project. It is a pdf that you can download print up and put together. And you can add your own halloween stuff to it like skeletons, ghosts etc. The Halloween Tatebanko


Tatebanko Castle

Download the Tatebanko Castle pdf here, print it out and make it.

You can print this up for personal or classroom use without restriction but you cannot reproduce this project with the intent to make a profit or post it to a website without express written consent of the author Will Kalif. Please email for requests.




Paper diorama Kit

Paper diorama Kit - Tatebanko: Hokusai


Edvard Munch the Scream DIY 3D Paper Craft Kit

Edvard Munch the Scream DIY 3D Paper Craft Kit (Tatebanko Japanese Paper Art Diorama)

New tatebanko project for Halloween: The Halloween Tatebanko Project


I have here a complete tatebanko project that you can download, print out and put together yourself. It is a castle.

The completed project


Make a tatebanko castle workbook

The Picture at left shows the seven page workbook you print up and cut out to make your castle. It is in Microsoft Word format. You can download it by clicking here: Tatebanko Castle Workbook   -  I also have this in a PDF


How to Build this Castle:

Things needed for this project

You need to print up the seven page workbook and then you will need scissors, glue or glue stick, some kind of an object to score the fold lines (optional) and some very thin cardboard. You can use the cardboard from a cereal box but thinner careboard would be better. I used a box that held bags of tea and I used some old file folders which work perfectly if you don't mind the manila color.



What's in this package? You have almost everything you need to make a tatebanko castle which includes 5 pages of drawings to cut out and put together and this instruction sheet. You will need scissors, glue or glue stick and some type of thin cardboard. Card stock really works well and Cereal box cardboard can be used but is a bit thick. To make the best tatebanko castle possible try to find a thin cardboard that is thinner than cereal box cardboard.

Assembly Directions: When cutting out the items a solid line means cut and a dashed line means fold. Do not cut the dashed lines!

Note: You can follow the numbers starting at #1 but after doing #12 do #14 next then finish with #13.

  1. I recommend you glue down, or glue stick down, the 5 sheets of drawings in their entirety to your cardboard before cutting things out. This will make the cutting and folding much easier.
  2. When doing a fold you should score the fold line with a sharp object before attempting the fold. This will make a nice crisp fold. You can use some type of a hobby knife but just be sure not to cut completely through the cardboard. The object of scoring is to deeply score but not cut through.
  3. Begin by cutting out the base labeled "1". To this you cut out the numbered pieces in order and glue them down to the base in the numbered positions. Do this for parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,7, 8 and finally 8a.
  4. Next you cut out and glue the back piece #9 to the base. The glue tab on the bottom of piece 9 should be on the underneath side of the base #1. Do not glue it so it is on the top of #1.
  5. Next cut out and glue both sides 10 and 11 to the base and back.
  6. Cut out and glue the front piece 14 then last you should cut out and glue 13 to the top.


Score the paper before folding

Some Further Tips: When folding the paper it is good to score a deep line in it first using some kind of tool and a ruler. This will make it much easier to fold and will make your folds much crisper and sharper.


The pieces are glued to the base

The general way of building a project like this is to glue all the pieces down to the bottom then add the back, sides, front and top.


I have lots of other Paper Projects

Make a Paper Castle

Make a Paper and cardboard Castle

If you are looking for an easier castle to make you might want to try this one! - Make a castle


Neuschwanstein Castle

I have a more challenging Paper Castle. It is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. If you are looking for a more dramatic castle this project is for you. The Neuschwanstein Paper Castle Project


The Black Dragon paper Castle

The Black Dragon paper Castle- This is my latest paper castle project and currently the castle is completed but the tutorial is not. You can check on the progress of this project here: The Black Dragon Paper Castle


Usborne paper castle

Make this Medieval Castle - Usborne Cut Out Models -

Printed on stiff card, this book contains templates to cut out and construct a superb model of a 14th century castle crammed with authentic detail. The model includes miniature characters for re-creating castle life, including market stalls and jousting knights as well as a portcullis that lifts and falls. The base of the model measures 59 x 46cm.

Castles to Cut Out

Cut & Assemble a Medieval Castle:

Cut & Assemble a Medieval Castle: A Full-Color Model of Caernarvon Castle in Wales


Make This Medieval Village

Make This Medieval Village (Cut Outs)


Diorama of Quebec City:

Diorama of Quebec City: Scale Architectual Paper Model


Easy-to-Make Castle

Easy-to-Make Castle (Models & Toys)


Days of Knights and Damsels

Days of Knights and Damsels: An Activity Guide (A Kid's Guide series)