Having learnt Japanese through high school for 10 years, I had heard a lot about what the symbol of a crane meant to the Japanese people. They have eternally gone hand-in-hand with peace and representing the hope for peace – most commonly found in Hiroshima at the sight of the Bombing there from World War 2.
I first learnt to fold a origami crane back in primary school, and am quite proud to say that it’s a skill I still have today – it comes in very handy when entertaining young children! We first hosted a Japanese student from Hiroshima back in 2006 and she quickly became part of the family, but she came over with her school in August – when the anniversary of the bombing is. We learnt a lot from her about the effects that the bombing still has on the residents of Hiroshima.
Through her and her classmates, we learnt about the story of Sadako Sasaki and her cranes. Legend has it that when Hiroshima was bombed, there was a girl aged 2 years old called Sadako and whilst she wasn’t killed by the blast, but later on in life, she was diagnosed with Leukemia after falling ill. Her friend visited her in hospital and told her about a folk lore story she had heard – that since the crane is rumoured to live for 100 years, folding 1000 cranes is meant to bring eternal good luck and therefore cure Sadako. Unfortunately she only made it to 644 cranes.
Currently a children’s memorial statue stands in the Hiroshima Peace Park, the funds to create the statue were raised by Sadako’s classmates and their families, forever reminding people about the innocent loss that was a result of the bombing all those years ago. Nowadays, they have glass cases where people from all over the world leave bundles of 1000 cranes they have folded to honour Sadako’s memory.
When I went to Japan in 2007 with school, our sister school in Adelaide who we visited with, folded 1000 cranes and took them over to leave in Hiroshima and that has always stayed with me and I vowed all those years ago that when I re-visited, I would take cranes that I folded with me.
And I did!
It took almost 3 months to fold them by myself – I didn’t realised just how many cranes 1000 was haha but I was so happy to be able to take them over with me! And to be able to hang them at the same time as a couple of school groups at the same time! It was then a great conversation starter that had a lot of young school kids come up and practise their english on me haha
Have you visited Hiroshima and seen all the cranes? Or do you know how to fold them yourself?