A Thousand Paper Cranes


“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” ― Johann Wolfgang von GoetheWilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship

I always find myself dwelling in the past. Always. May be because the past is safe- it’s already set in stone never to be changed- there’s no unpredictability attached to it. I miss the city I left behind. Day in and day out. It’s never out of my thoughts. And in such a mood, I picked up a novel called ‘The Nine-Chambered Heart’ and journeyed with the central character to the city with the river, the city without a river, the town in the east of the country, the mountain and the sea beach. It’s in this book that I learnt the belief about ‘A thousand paper cranes’ in Origami.

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. It is a traditional art form about 1000 years old. It is a creative folk art that has spread worldwide for its simplicity. It needs no cutting, gluing or coloring. It begins and ends with plane piece of paper. It is said to have a calming and relaxing effect on the practitioners. It needs patience and perseverance to be good in Origami, though no other skill is required. And it is believed that one who folds a thousand paper cranes would have his most desired wish granted by the gods for certain.

Stories have it that the person is granted happiness and eternal good luck, even recovery from illness. Paper cranes, thus, make popular charms, gifts and offerings to the temples too. They are put in memorial services, weddings, birth ceremonies and other rituals. Cranes are believed to be mystical creatures, just like tortoises and dragons. More than anything else, origami and especially paper cranes are a part of the Japanese culture, their belief system, hope and faith.

Akira Yoshizawa, a popular origamist is credited to have reinvented the modern Origami as it is known today.

1000 Paper Cranes is a message of peace. It has taken the form of a campaign many a times. 1000 Paper Cranes for Wildlife Conservation. It is a symbol of solidarity. 1000 Paper Cranes for Tsunami Victims. Cranes For Cancer has been shipping one thousand paper cranes for cancer patients for around 18 years, to bring them hope and uplift their spirits.

“I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.”- Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki was only 2 years old when Hiroshima was exploded with the world’s first atom bomb. She survived the world war seemingly unscathed but developed radiation induced leukemia which was detected ten years later. She was given a year to live, when, she heard of the ancient Japanese legend, and decided to make a senbazuru- one thousand paper cranes in the hospital bed. All she wished for was to live. She succumbed to the disease at a young age of 12, on October 25th, 1955, having made about 645 cranes.

Sadako’s school friends completed her senbazuru after her death, and she was buried with a thousand paper cranes. Today in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a bronze figure of Sadako, holding a majestic golden crane, stands as the Children’s Peace Monument. The bottom slab of the monument is inscribed “This is our cry. This our prayer. Building peace in the world.”  And 6th August every year is remembered as Sadako Peace Day, to remember the horrors of the war and spread the message of peace.

Sadako’s story is illustrated in the children’s book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” by Eleanor Coerr.

PS: Today's story in #AToZChallenge was about "A Thousand Paper Cranes". The art of Origami. Tomorrow's story would be about building art communities. Would bring you posts themed around art, this entire month.


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  1. I remember reading that book to my children years ago. I'd forgotten that it was based on a real person.

  2. My son is an origami artist also. He does find the folding therapeutic.

    1. I forgot to mention that I'm stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip!

  3. Sounds like an intriguing book. Thanks for sharing! I have never tried origami but it looks fascinating. Stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip! Loving my Fitbit

  4. Hi, Pratikshya - Thank you for sharing this with us. I had heard of this book, but never read it. It is now on my reading list.
    I stopped by from #AtoZChallenge Road Trip. It's a pleasure to meet you here.

  5. I recently learned about the 1000 Paper Cranes Campaign for Cancer. My kids are going to make cranes at a local cancer center. I facilitate a caregiver group that night so I won't be able to attend. They gave me a crane, though. There is something so sweet about them.

  6. Thanks for sharing. Just stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip!

  7. Hello Pratikshya. I'm stopping by from AtoZChallenge Road Trip to say hello. Sadako's story is touching, and I love that the practice of folding cranes for peace is widespread. I've loved origami since I was a child and have folded many many cranes. Your post has me wanting to check out The Nine-Chambered Heart as well. I'm delighted to have found my way here, and I'll be working my way through your challenge posts.


  8. Very cool story. Stopping by from the A to Z Road Trip.

  9. What a touching story! Dropping in on the AtoZ Roadtrip. Hope to read more this week.....naptime is nearly over for today ;)

  10. Cool post.
    I learned how to fold the cranes, but I only made about a dozen or so. My cousin was into that for a while, but I think the thing she was folding them for fell through before she could make 1000. I don't really remember.
    Stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip!

  11. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing :-)

    Ronel from Ronel the Mythmaker A-Z road-tripping with Everything Writerly: A is for AuthorToolboxBlogHop

  12. An interesting post with lots of detail.
    D is for Diving

    Stopping by on the A-Z Road Trip
    Wendy - self-confessed waffler, reader, crafter, Mother and Grandmother

  13. Stopping by from the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip! Thanks for all the information about the paper cranes!

  14. Stopping by as part of the #AtoZChallenge Road Trip. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was one of my favorite books to teach when I was teaching English. Even though folding cranes is challenging, the students always loved making origami paper cranes.


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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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