A crane is one of the mystical creatures of Japanese culture. It is said that a crane lives for a thousand years.
Origami (the art of paper folding) cranes have a special meaning to the people of Japan. It is said that the one who folds a thousand paper cranes can be granted his or her wish. The most famous example of this is Sadako Sasaki.
Sadako was a victim of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and she was dying of leukaemia as a result. To prolong her life, she started folding cranes, hoping that she could wish for a recovery if she folded 1000 of them. Some sources say that she only folded 644 before she died, and her friends finished the rest and buried it with her. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on the other hand, says that she actually completed all one thousand.
As a result of Sadako, the paper crane has become a symbol for world peace and people often give them to temples that burn eternal flames for world peace.
The thousand cranes also serve as gifts, for couples, marriages and family in general. By giving someone a thousand cranes, you are wishing them good fortune and happiness for a thousand years.
Paper cranes have huge cultural significance to the people of Japan and can breed all sorts of stories. The obvious one being the granting of a wish when one completes the feat of a thousand cranes. Sadako is also a great inspiration, especially the mystery about the amount of cranes she was able to finish. If she did fold a thousand cranes, maybe she wished for something else instead of getting better? The cranes can also be used as a symbol in a story, delivering a message otherwise not mentioned.
I specifically chose paper cranes for today’s post for the people of Japan that was hit by the tsunami. If you have the money for it, please donate some to help the victims of the disaster. If you don’t know where to go to do so, here is a link to Maureen Johnson’s page where you can donate for Shelterbox and even win prizes! LINK