Archivists Scramble to Preserve Yamaha’s Paper Craft Website Before it Shuts Down

Yamaha Paper Craft is shutting down on September 30.
September 26, 2018, 5:30pm

A biker sitting down to gently craft a paper model of a bird perched on a plum blossom branch might be an incongruous image, but for Yamaha enthusiasts, the Yamaha Paper Craft website has been a lesser-known corner of the hobby for more than a decade.

Yamaha’s paper craft site, which launched in 1997, will shut down in just a few days, on September 30, according to the website:

The site offers free instructions and downloadables for dozens of folding-paper models that enthusiasts can make at home. Most of them are, as expected, Yamaha bikes. The Ultra-Realistic section recreates motorcycles down to the smallest parts, while other models offer the whole scene, including race tracks and audiences in the stands. But for something completely different, the Rare Animals of the World section features downloadable materials to make your own paper coelacanth fish, African elephants, Cuban crocodiles, and sloths.

The pieces are distinctively "paper craft," not origami, and a serious hobbyist will tell you: Traditionally, origami involves folding one piece of paper without cutting or gluing. Paper craft doesn't have the same restrictions.

Other companies, like Canon, include paper craft as a free offering for fans, but why Yamaha kept this site going for 21 years is unclear. I’ve reached out to Yamaha, and will update if I hear back.

All of the designs are by Japanese paper craft artist Nobutaka Mukouyama, whose first project was a Yamaha VMAX for the Tokyo Motor Show, according to the Yamaha website. He appears to be keeping a Tumblr running for the paper crafts, where he’s posted the announcement that Yamaha’s official support of the projects is ending.

It’s not all bad news, though. The vigilant people at the subreddit r/datahoarder spotted the notice and got to work archiving the whole thing, making torrent files and web archives . One Redditor said they “accidentally” scraped the whole site, which amounted to about 15 gigabytes of data. They needed to be careful about how they went about archiving, however, as too many people trying to scrape at the same time could make the whole site crash.

It’s not clear whether the r/datahoarder crowd is preserving the site because they love paper craft or motorcycles that much, or because they love the craft of archiving. As we’ve seen with amateur archivists hoarding massive amounts of porn, Apple commercials, and passwords, it’s likely the latter.

Rest in peace, Yamaha Paper Crafts. We hardly knew you.