Thousand Origami Cranes (千羽鶴, Senbazuru ) is a group of one thousand origami paper cranes held together by strings. An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise), and is said to live for a thousand years. In Japan, it is commonly said that folding 1000 paper origami cranes makes a person's wish come true.
A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift by the folder, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be gifted to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging a Senbazuru in one's home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm. They are also used as a matchmaking charm for a Japanese girl when she turns 16 years old. She would make 1000 paper cranes and give them to an admired boy.
The Thousand Origami Cranes has also become a symbol of world peace through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who tried to stave off her death from leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II by making one thousand origami cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed and buried them all with her. (This is only one version of the story. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum states that she did, in fact, complete the 1,000 cranes.) My son's book club finished reading this a couple of months ago and this was the catalyst for his friend Aidan to suggest the idea of making 1000 paper cranes in support of Japan's current crisis situation.
If you are local to Nelson, there are crane folding groups happening until 3:00 today at City Hall, as well as this weekend at the Community Complex, 9-12 Saturday and 10-12 noon Sunday. It would be great if you could bring paper, and if you wish, you can print instructions off on your computer or just show up and help out with what is already going on, I am sure there will be enough to go around! The cranes will be distributed around town for the next while and tiny ones are being made into pins to raise funding for Japan.
We are on our way down now... hope to see you there!
(Much of this post is taken from Wikipedia due to me running out the door! I wanted to make sure the word got out first :) )
Photo credits: Please click on the image to take you to the seller's etsy shop. The others are from the Wikipedia page!