Kirie Artist Carves Playful Narratives Into Tree Leaves

“Aquarium of Leaves”

A 37-year old Japanese artist who goes by the name Lito has been living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) his entire life. Lito had been searching for an outlet where he could channel his above-normal levels of concentration and hyper focus when he discovered the Japanese art of kirie (切り絵, literally ‘cut picture’). Several years ago he began experimenting, not with paper, but with leaves.


“My Father’s Dragon”

According to an interview, leaves turned out to be an ideal medium for Lito as their decomposing nature forced him to work quickly. Over time he got faster and his daily creations, which he began posting to social media, became more intricate.

Following the standard kirie practice, each piece is always cut from a single leaf. But Lito always leaves traces of the leaf’s midrib, perhaps a sign of respect towards the leaf. And Lito also always manages to imbue his creations with a playful narrative, one that is either inspired by popular films or stories, or plucked from the artist’s own imagination.

If you would like to see the artist’s work up-close, he’s having an exhibition at Daimaru department store in Kobe from 11/30 – 12/11/2023 where you can even purchase select works. He also has a variety of negajo (new years cards) that you can order online and send.

You can keep up with Lito’s work on Instagram and Twitter.

an ukiyo-e inspired piece titled “Thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji: The Great Wave off Kanagawa.”

“A small world where everyone helps each other”

“Night sky, moon and bicycle” (a tribute to E.T.)

“I came to meet this scenery again this fall”

“Ghost Parade”

“The star where you were born〜Scorpio〜”

“Someone secretly buried nuts in a small alley” (a tribute to My Neighbor Totoro)

“Dad, how’s the temperature of the bath?” (a tribute to Ge-Ge-Ge no Kitaro)

“A little autumn concert is going to start soon”

this article originally appeared September 2020. It has been updated to reflect recent information.


  1. Wonderful!!! So amazing!!

  2. These are so delicate and beautiful.


  4. so cool

  5. i like all of them

  6. these are amazing

  7. this are awsome 🙂

  8. these are pretty cute i like the rabbit one the most

  9. it looks like they carved it on a leaf

  10. I feel the same way!

  11. Literally, Beauty beyond mere words! Works of Art!

  12. I understand he must work quickly to cut a leaf before it decays. How does he preserve the leaf after it is cut, though?

  13. The Twitter link is incorrect. The current account is @lito_leafart

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