和訳は英文の下にございます。/ The Japanese translation is below the English text.



(1) The string bookmarks
(2) How to make a triangle paper bookmark
(3) The etymology of “shiori”, the bookmark
(4) A little travel plan brochure
Photo 1 (Click to enlarge) / 写真1(画像をクリックすると拡大します)

(1) The string bookmarks

Do you like reading books?

Recently, I read some exchanging of opinions about their reading experiences on a Japanese Internet bulletin board.

One of them said that she missed paperback books with a “spin”.

I didn’t know what “spin” was, and neither did many others. Then we learned that was a professional term in the publishing business. It meant the thin, woven string bookmark attached to the spine of a book.

a bookmark in the making
Photo 2 / 写真2

But why did they call it “spin”? There are several theories for the origin, but one of them was the most persuasive to me. According to it, it came from the English word “spine”, since the bookmark is attached to the spine of a book bound in the Western style. And “spine” is pronounced “s/pee/neh” in Japanese.

Return to the conversation, people agreed that paperbacks seldom come with the string bookmarks nowadays.

To counter the situation, some said they bought or made a book cover with a string bookmark. Others said they used strips of Post Its, and so on.

a bookmark in the making
Photo 3 / 写真3

One said she was happy with her hand-made “triangle bookmarks” of paper.

We found how to make it, and we tried it.

She was right; it was so easy and convenient that we would like to share it with you.

(2) How to make a paper triangle bookmark

We will use a square piece of paper 3 inches x 3 inches (7.5 cm x 7.5 cm). It can be small origami paper, pretty wrapping paper, post-It and so on.

a bookmark in the making
Photo 4 / 写真4

1. Fold the paper on sides. It becomes a rectangle. [See Photo 1]

2. Fold it again and make a square a quarter of the original size. Open it to restore the rectangle. We will call the center crease “Line A” [Still Photo 1].

3. Pick only one layer from one of the open corners. Fold it into a triangle along Line A (We will call it Flap B) [Photo 2].

4. Hold both layers of the other open corner. Fold the layers together into a triangle along Line A (We will call it Flap C) [Photo 3].

A bookmark in the making
Photo 5 / 写真5

5. A pocket has been created beneath Flap B. While you hold Flap C securely with one hand, stick a finger of the other hand in the pocket all the way and keep it open [Photo 4].

6. With your finger still in the pocket, half open Flap C. Bend the paper along Line A, so that the corner of Flap C approaches the opening of the pocket [Photo 5]. Then remove your finger from the pocket, push Flap C carefully into the pocket from its corner [Photo 6]. When it’s all the way in the pocket, squash down. [Photo 7]

7. Insert the corner of the page you are reading into the pocket of the bookmark! [Photo 8]

(3) The etymology of “shiori”, the bookmark

a bookmark in the making
Photo 6 / 写真6

“Shiori” is the Japanese word for a bookmark. It is derived from the ancient verb, “shioru”.

“Shioru” means to make a road sign when walking in the mountains and in the wild by breaking a branch of a tree. It therefore means to show the way to someone as well. From that, they began to say “shiori” for a signpost and for a bookmark.  

The Chinese character for a bookmark, “栞”, contains a shape of a tree (“木”) in it, so we think ancient Chinese people also broke branches to make a road sign.

(4) A little travel plan brochure

Photo 7 / 写真7

There is an expression “[something] no shiori” (shiori of [something]).

For example, “Tabi no Shiori (Shiori of Travel)” means a very simple travel guide or a thin brochure. It is not a heavy, thorough guidebook.

When we were small, our teacher always gave each of us an “Ensoku no Shiori (Shiori of Excursion)” several days before a school trip. It was just stapled few sheets of paper explaining what to wear and to bring, the itinerary, information about the destination, and so on.

In high school, “shiori” making was a big project. We were going to Kyoto and Nara on a school trip, and we had to compile “Shuugaku-Ryokoo no Shiori (Shiori of School Trip)”. It involved a lot of searching and writing about the history and important anecdotes about the places to visit.

Photo 8 / 写真8

I also hear that when two persons are going to get married, they sometimes plan a formal meeting to introduce their respective families. For that occasion, they may create a fancy brochure titled “Kao-Awase no Shiori (Shiori for the Introductory Meeting)”. It contains the greetings of a couple to both families, the couple’s backgrounds, names of the family members and their relationships, and so on.

So, I had heard the word “shiori” often enough, but I never wondered why these small brochures were called bookmarks. But if the original meaning of “shiori” was a road sign and a guide to the unknown or little-known world, I understand.

These days, we have not travelled for many reasons, but I would like to make trips again! When that happens, I will plan my itinerary, search on my destinations, and put them together into my own “Tabi no Shiori”, a little travel plan brochure.

[The end of the English post]
















7.5センチ (3インチ) 四方の正方形の紙を用意します。小さめの折り紙、きれいな包装紙、ポストイットなどでも。




4.開いているもう一つの角は、二枚合わせて、Aの線に沿って三角に折ります (これを袖Cとします) [写真3]。

















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