A Thousand Origami Cranes

Many years ago I helped a friend fold a thousand origami cranes for someone who had a brain tumor. I’ve always found the Japanese legend of the thousand origami cranes to be delightful. Some say that they will bring you good luck, or a long life, or restored health. Most believe that you must fold them yourself, and complete them within one year, but I often see people making them for others. Fathers will give them as a wedding gift to their children, or they can be given to a baby for long life and good luck. They are also given to certain temples as a prayer for peace.

What I enjoy most about this tradition is that it’s sort of the physical manifestation of a prayer. I’m not one who prays. The only time I even think about doing so is when I feel helpless. Either I’m in a bad situation or someone I love is. Then I think about praying, but am fairly confident that it won’t do any good. So when feeling helpless like that, it would be comforting to be doing something. It would be good to at least live for a while in the illusion that I have some control. Folding cranes will do nicely.

Also, I do believe that it never hurts to make your positive desires visible to those around you. Saying that you wish someone well is a wonderful thing to do, but origami cranes last longer, take more effort and therefore demonstrate your sincerity, and hey, they’re pretty.

Ironically, after I had already written this entry, I came across this statue for the first time in Seattle’s Peace Park, not far from where I work. I have no idea how I overlooked it all this time.

[Image credit: historylink.org]

If you’d like to learn how to make an origami crane, check out this nifty tutorial:


And if you Google Origami Crane Kits, you’ll find all the supplies you need. Best wishes to you.


5 thoughts on “A Thousand Origami Cranes

  1. lyn sutton

    Learned to make them at 7 from a book. Challenge myself to see how small or fast I can make them or make them in mid air without benefit of a flat surface. You can decorate gifts and Christmas trees with them and make them from scraps of gift wrapping paper or even gum wrappers. String them with crystals and beads and make them in two tones using two sheets, one square slightly smaller than the other.

    Tried many shapes but always return to the crane, perhaps because I love the strength of it’s symbolism; good luck, happiness, freedom, communication, light, fidelity, wisdom, peace and longevity. Especially peace…make them for your enemies. I like to think, if you place one on a grave you’re wishing the deceased a final peace while hoping for a personal peace over their loss.
    The process of origami can be calming and meditative. Folding cranes won’t give you control over painful situations but may help you self-control extreme feelings while what you create becomes a hopeful, tangible manifestation and reminder of that balance…so… diy art therapy.

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