Born in the cultural upheaval of the Taisho Period, Cray-Pas represent the Japanese evolution from artistic training based solely on imitation to a focus centered on fostering creativity in children.
Brothers-through-marriage Rinzo Satake and Shoukou Sasaki created the Sakura Crayon company and proceeded to join forces with the artist and theorist Kanae Yamamoto. In his book, The Theory of Jiyu-ga (jiyu-ga is translated drawing without a master, or learning without a teacher) Yamamoto fostered the idea of teaching children art by stimulating their creativity with color and drawing experiments. He desired a medium that was easy to handle and apply while creating a vivid color spectrum. Yamamoto experimented diligently before he created the perfect art medium. One failed attempt used coconut oil as a binder. Seeing Japan's naturally extreme seasons and temperatures as a potential problem, Yamamoto-san created both a "summer" and "winter" crayon. But perfection was revealed in 1927 when the Sakura company created the Cray-Pas oil pastel. It is still in use today.
The name Cray-Pas is a result of the Japanese attempting to fit foreign words with foreign sounds into their alphabet. In addition, the abbreviation is done simply for convenience and as a marketing tool. In case you do not know, Japan is very fond of small, cute things. Kawaii, ne?