A thousand paper cranes

When visiting a temple in Japan, you will often see large strings of colored paper shapes, hung up in various places.

a thousand paper cranes in osu kannon temple in nagoya

In Osu Kannon Temple in Nagoya

a thousand paper cranes in Atsuta jingu in Nagoya

In Atsuta Jingu Shrine in Nagoya

Closer inspection reveals that these paper shapes are actually cranes. One thousand of them to be exact. The origami cranes are often arranged by color, fitted one close on top of the other and held together by strings. I love the visual effect of all those colorful strings of folded paper.

one thousand origami cranes

Strings of origami cranes in close-up

one thousand origami cranes

Zooming in even further

The custom of folding a thousand origami cranes (senbazuru 千羽鶴) originates from an old Japanese legend. It is said that the person who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish. These days it is mostly used as a way to pray for good health and as a symbol of hope.

The origami cranes became famous through the story of Sadako Sasaki. She was a 12-year-old girl who developed leukemia due to exposure to the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. During her illness, she began the task of folding a thousand origami cranes. Sadly, she died before she could finish the task. Her classmates finished the cranes after her death, as a tribute to their classmate.

I like both the visual aspect of the cranes and the meaning behind the custom. Maybe I should try folding one thousand paper cranes myself. What do you think?

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