Yuki Tatsumi was working as a waiter in a restaurant when one day, as he was cleaning up a table, he noticed that a customer had intricately folded up the paper chopstick sleeve and left it behind. Japan doesn’t have a culture of tipping but Tatsumi imagined that this was a discreet, subconscious method of showing appreciation. He began paying attention and sure enough noticed that other customers were doing the same thing. Tatsumi began collecting these “tips” which eventually led to his art project: Japanese Tip.
Since 2012, Tatsumi has not only been collecting his own tips but he’s reached out to restaurants and eateries all across Japan communicating his concept and asking them to send him their tips. The response has been enormous. He’s collected over 13,000 paper sculptures that range from obscure and ugly to intricate and elaborate.
Earlier this month, Tatsumi staged an exhibition in Tokyo where he displayed 8,000 of some of the most interesting sculptures sourced from all 47 prefectures around Japan. “Japanese Tip is a project between restaurants and customers,” says Tatsumi, “to communicate the ‘appreciation for food’ and ‘appreciation of the service’ by using the most common material used at any Japanese restaurant.”