Senbazuru: origami peace crane tree

Senbazuru 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 the gods. Some stories believe you are granted happiness and eternal good luck, instead of just one wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. This makes them popular gifts for special friends and family.

The crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures and is said to live for a thousand years: that is why 1000 cranes are made, one for each year. In some stories it is believed that the 1000 cranes must be completed within one year and they must all be made by the person who is to make the wish at the end.

The crane has also become a symbol of world peace through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Sasaki soon developed leukemia and, at age 12, began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand. She died in October 1955, and there is a statue of Sadako holding a crane in Hiroshima Peace Park. Every year on Obon day, people leave cranes at the statue in memory of the departed spirits of their ancestors.

Sadako Sasaki monument in Hiroshima

In 2013, we hosted a peace crane event at the Whistler Public Library to make a senbazuru for International Peace Day. A thousand cranes were a lot to make in one day, but the senbazuru hung in the library for a couple of years. In 2019, at the Whistler Multicultural Festival Hiromi and Kaori led another workshop to create a new senbazuru for the library.