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Thousand Paper Cranes

I am always amazed at the incredibly complex shapes and objects a skilled origamist can achieve.  Packs of beautifully patterned, coloured papers abound in shops in Japan, and I succumbed to the temptation to buy.  But what to do with all the small boats and birds, some slightly wonky, that I made?

In Japan, they string their paper cranes together, turning one small, intricate paper shape into a strikingly beautiful chain.


Strictly speaking, there should be a thousand cranes in a chain.  Indeed, the chains are known as Senbazuru (千羽鶴), meaning Thousand Origami Cranes.


In Japan, the crane is deemed to be a mystical and holy creature, said to live for a thousand years.  Following on from this, an ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane.  Some stories go further, suggesting a gift of eternal good luck in return for your labours. This makes senbazuru popular gifts for special friends and family, often given as wedding or new baby gifts.


If you are tempted to have a go, here is a short youtube video showing how to make a crane.

Follow the instructions, then simply repeat 999 times, take a long thread, tie a bead to one end to prevent the cranes falling off and thread through the small hole in the centre of each crane, until you have a complete chain.  Happy folding!

For a moving blog post about a young Hirishima victim and her faith in paper cranes, click here.

Linked to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Small Subjects.

17 replies »

  1. Debbie – I really liked this post because we have done origami in the art room a few times. But we have never done the paper crane because it is a more complex one – and students have more success when they start with a fish or a dog (super easy and is a way to learn how to do a few of the folds and creases).
    So other folks should keep that in mind too – and maybe start with easy origami and then work up to a crane. lol

    Also- do you know about the book: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes ?
    well it is a must read. And your post today has expanded my knowledge of this (and like the name for the string of them) and to see the photo of all the cranes strung up like that – very cool.


  2. My daughter is very crafty and has been to Japan. On every train ride she leaves a folded crane behind on the little table…and she folds them from the train ticket!

    Lovely entry!


  3. I love origami. I know how to make spiders with them. I learnt that to make as giveaways with my children’s book “Nadir and Incy Wincy Spider”. Great post.


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