Origami Cranes and more…

Since everyone seems to be on the look out for diagrams and stories about the origami crane I thought I’d make it easier to put all of it together in one post.

The most popular design is that of the peace crane, which is the most recognizable symbol in origami. However, there are other variations of this which have been created over the years and look just as pretty and are simple to fold too. The crane is considered a symbol of honor, peace and loyalty in Japan. This is one of the most basic, simple and most popular origami designs of all time.

I have included excerpts of the most requested stories behind the origami crane and I am sure you will like to read them. There is a lot of meaning to why a thousand origami cranes are folded and why a crane is such a symbolic image in Japan.

One of the most popular stories is that of a 1000 cranes… the story of a little girl – Sadako Sasaki, who was a victim of the atomic bomb. This is the story as narrated in Wikipedia:

Sadako Sasaki (佐々木 禎子 Sasaki Sadako?, January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955) was a Japanese girl who lived near Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Sadako was only two years old on August 6, 1945 when she became a victim of the atomic bomb.

At the time of the explosion Sadako was at home, about 1 mile from ground zero. By November 1954, chicken pox had developed on her neck and behind her ears. Then in January 1955, purple spots had started to form on her legs. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with leukemia, which her mother referred to as “an atom bomb disease.”[1] She was hospitalized on February 21, 1955 and given, at the most, a year to live.

On August 3, 1955, Chizuko Hamamoto — Sadako’s best friend — came to the hospital to visit and cut a golden piece of paper into a square and folded it into a paper crane. At first Sadako didn’t understand why Chizuko was doing this but then Chizuko retold the story about the paper cranes. Inspired by the crane, she started folding them herself, spurred on by the Japanese saying that one who folded 1,000 cranes was granted a wish. A popular version of the story is that she fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her. This comes from the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. An exhibit which appeared in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum stated that by the end of August, 1955, Sadako had achieved her goal and continued to fold more cranes.

Though she had plenty of free time during her days in the hospital to fold the cranes, she lacked paper. She would use medicine wrappings and whatever else she could scrounge up. This included going to other patients’ rooms to ask to use the paper from their get-well presents. Chizuko would bring paper from school for Sadako to use.

During her time in hospital her condition progressively worsened. Around mid-October her left leg became swollen and turned purple. After her family urged her to eat something, Sadako requested tea on rice and remarked “It’s good.” Those were her last words. With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955.

After her death, Sadako’s friends and schoolmates published a collection of letters in order to raise funds to build a memorial to her and all of the children who had died from the effects of the atomic bomb. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also called the Genbaku Dome. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads, This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.

There is also a statue of her in the Seattle Peace Park. Sadako has become a leading symbol of the impact of nuclear war. Sadako is also a heroine for many girls in Japan. Her story is told in some Japanese schools on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Dedicated to her, people all over Japan celebrate August 6 as the annual peace day.

1000 Cranes in popular culture…Wikipedia also has an entry for how 1000 cranes are still popular in the world today and their cultural significance:

Thousand Origami Cranes (千羽鶴 Senbazuru or Zenbazuru?) 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 Asia, it is commonly said that folding 1000 paper origami cranes makes a person’s wish come true. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family.

A thousand paper cranes is also traditionally given as a wedding gift by the folder, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. It 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. It is also used as a matchmaking charm for a Japanese girl when she turns 13 years old. She would make 1000 paper cranes and give it to an admired boy.

Sets of origami paper are sold widely in Japan, with Senbazuru sets including 1000 (or more, in case of mistakes) sheets of paper, string, and beads to place at the end of each string to prevent the cranes slipping off[1]. Commonly the cranes are assembled as 25 strings of 40 cranes each[1]. The size of the origami paper does not matter when assembling a thousand paper cranes, but smaller sheets consequently yield smaller and lighter strings of cranes. The most popular size for Senbazuru cranes is 75 by 75 millimetres (3.0 in × 3.0 in). Some people cut their own squares of paper from anything available, such as magazines.

Origami paper used for Senbazuru is usually of a solid color, though printed designs are also available. Larger size origami paper, usually 6×6 inches, often has traditional Japanese or flower designs, reminiscent of kimono patterns.

The Thousand Origami Cranes has become a symbol of world peace[citation needed] through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who contracted leukemia as a result of radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Her story is told in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Several temples, including some in Tokyo and Hiroshima, have eternal flames for World Peace. At these temples, school groups or individuals often donate Senbazuru to add to the prayer for peace. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released. In this way they are related to the prayer flags of India and Tibet.

Some Popular Origami Designs…

How to fold a traditional origami crane (Tsuru): Instructional video
Traditional Origami Crane (Tsuru)

How to fold an origami crane box: Instructional video
Origami Crane box / holder

How to fold an origami Hiroshima crane: Diagram and Image courtesy – Origami Weekly
Hiroshima Crane

How to fold a double origami crane (Japanese style)!: Instructional video
Double Origami Cranes

How to fold an origami crane (Eric Joisel’s variation): Instructional video and post.

Origami Crane (Design by Eric Joisel)

How to fold an origami crane box: Instructional video
Crane Box

Origami Crane (Design by Eric Joisel)

Origami Crane (Design by Eric Joisel)
Origami Crane (Design by Eric Joisel)

Before you exclaim “A Crane???!!!” you might want to know that this is no ordinary easy-beasy origami crane. It’s designed by none other than Eric Joisel and uses the crane base to start off. When you first start folding this model, you will find that the basic folds are the same as folding the peace crane. But voila! Once you are through with Eric Joisel’s amazing designing steps, it looks absolutely nothing like the common cranes!

What you need:
You need a square sheet of paper for this; it can be dup-colored or single-side colored origami paper. I used a 9 inch square sheet of single-side colored origami paper to fold this crane.

How to fold the crane:
You start off with a bird base and then proceed to fold that into the crane base as shown in the video below. Next, when bringing the lower “dissected’ portions of the base upwards in a reverse fold, make sure that you make one of these absolutely firm while the other one should be just propped up lightly. This one (lightly propped) will become the tail of the crane which needs to be made ‘full’. The one which you have firmed up becomes the neck and head of it.

Ideally, you would not need to wet fold this model, as you can shape it with your fingers with ease. The part which is really tricky to fold are the feathers as part of the wings. This requires you to ‘pleat’ the paper with a 1 mm gap in between each pleat and curve the end of it.

I hope you find this instructional video easy to follow!