I’m pretty sure you know of this little guy! This is a paper crane, and it is easily one of the most recognizable paper crafts from Japan. Japanese origami is a really neat and fun little past time that requires you to precisely fold, crease, unfold, and manipulate little sheets of paper into beautiful, fun and intricate designs! It’s definitely one of my favorite past times, which I enjoyed even before coming to Japan. Luckily, there are tons of different little origami books and paper supplies all over, so I’m in no way lacking in terms of supplies. Yet, I’ve definitely found a greater appreciation for origami after coming here to Japan. First of all, I’m able to learn many new little tricks and practice Japanese with the people who have taught me new designs. In fact, I was able to participate in a CIEE sponsored origami lesson/event during lunch, where I received a delicious bento lunch and learned to fold some cute little designs! I made a flying folding crane that flaps when you pull the tale and then made a sort of spinning top out of three sheets of origami paper!
The instructors were very nice and helpful, and most importantly patient with all of us who were learning! My favorite was definitely making the spinning top, because now I can idly spin this little contraption when I’m bored writing an essay or doing homework. It’s great.
However, there is more to folding origami than just being a little pastime. Origami contains some bearings in Japan’s history. When we went to the Peace Museum in Hiroshima last weekend, we were able to see the power of the belief in hope during dark times. I was very moved by the melancholy yet inspiring story of Sadako Sasaki and her belief in the 1000 Cranes Wish. Legend has it that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. Sadako, at the age of 12, sought to fold 1000 cranes in order to recover from Leukemia caused by the radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during WWII. I’ve always been taken with the belief of the 1000 Cranes Wish and though I’ve never made 1000 cranes, someday I hope to. Though Sadako sadly passed away, her story inspired the nation and continues to inspire people today, like me! Hers is a story of hope and desire for peace.
Sadako's Memorial. She's holding a Paper Crane.
The Peace Museum has a statue built in Sadako’s honor, featuring her on top with a giant paper crane to symbolize the power of hope and peace. Surrounding the memorial are giant clear spaces for schoolchildren to put the 1000s of creatively and diligently made paper cranes they fold in her honor and in the hope for peace around the world. I found the entire story and memorial very moving and I will never forget what I saw and learned at the Peace Museum.
Hundreds of students fold cranes for peace and hang them like so.
Th pictures made from cranes are intricate and heart touching.
Sadako’s story is one I’ll always remember when folding origami in the future, and it’s one I love to share. Origami holds more meaning than simply being a simple past time. I’ve definitely learned that here and maybe I will finish those 1000 cranes sooner than I think…
Hope you enjoyed this little post and you’ll have a greater appreciation for paper cranes like I do. Until next time~
Class of 2015