Welcome, nau mai, haere mai!
Come on in and stay a little while. . . you never know what you might find!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fold. . . a thousand paper cranes for Christchurch and Japan

Paper cranes I folded yesterday, some with flapping action.
My heart goes out to all those suffering in Japan after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake on 11th March. The proportions of the disaster just defy belief, and the tv footage is so disturbing - how on earth can people muster strength to survive an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, when any single one of those would be a catastrophe in its own right?

I imagine many of you are familiar with the story of 1000 paper cranes, but for those who aren't - here's a brief outline.

There is an ancient Japanese story which says that if anyone manages to fold 1000 origami paper cranes, they will be granted one wish by a crane. Sadaki Sasako was only two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, near her home by Misasa Bridge in 1945. Over the years she became sick and was eventually diagnosed with leukaemia. She was hospitalised in February 1955 (aged 12) and given a maximum of a year to live. A friend of hers visited her in hospital and gave Sadaki a golden paper crane she had folded. This reminded Sadaki of the ancient Japanese story. Sadaki decided to fold 1000 paper cranes, hoping that then the crane would grant her wish to be well again. Sadly, Sadaki died on 25th October 1955, and stories vary as to whether she finished her 1000 cranes or not. Her story lives on and there are statues of her holding the original golden paper crane in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Seattle Peace Park. There is a plaque at the base of the statue in Hiroshima Peace Park that reads: "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth."

The picture below is from the Wikipedia Creative Commons.
Statue of Sadaki Sasako in Seattle Peace Park
I have decided I will fold 1000 paper cranes as a wish that people in Japan, Christchurch and disaster zones elsewhere in the world will find peace in their hearts and the strength to carry on and rise up from the ruins and incredible suffering around them. I will be sending positive thoughts to all those affected in Japan and Christchurch as I fold. Once they are finished, I plan to string the 1000 cranes together and give them to the King's Language School in Christchurch (where 68 overseas students, and 9 staff died in the earthquake, in the collapsed and fire-riddled 6 storey CTV building) My aim is to let them know that people elsewhere in the country (and the world) are thinking of them, by using the 1000 cranes as a metaphor for offering hope and a wish for a peaceful future. Many of the lost students at King's Language School were Japanese, but regardless of ethnicity, I hope the thought will be appreciated. Here's a link to the names and nationalities of all those from King's Language School missing/dead in the earthquake. It is so sad to read all those names and think of all those young people so far away from their homes and loved ones when they died. As a mother and as someone who lives a world away from her family of birth, that really gets to me. . .

In fact, of course, the whole situation and ALL the deaths really get to me, and this is just one little thing I want to do to help, to send thoughts, aroha (love) and strength to all those affected. It may be a very small thing, but it's all I can do, having already given what I can monetarily to the earthquake relief funds. I just hope it will be well-received. I have no fixed time limit in mind, just as soon as I can fold/gather 1000 cranes and get them threaded together, I will deliver the cranes to Christchurch. It's approximately 5.5 hours drive away - perfectly do-able with an overnight stop.

If any of you reading this would like to send me some paper cranes to help make up the 1000 I would be delighted. It doesn't have to be fancy paper, anything will do (even junk mail!), but please make sure the squares you start with are at least 15 cm square.

Here's a clickable link to a pdf of illustrated instructions to make an origami paper crane.
For those of you who don't know me personally, please contact me at yarnificationz (at) gmail (dot) com and/or with a comment below and I will let you know where to post those cranes. . .

If by a small miracle I end up with over 1000 cranes thanks to all of your generosity, then I will start folding and collecting the next 1000 cranes to send to a pre-school or school in Japan which has been badly affected.

By the way, I first heard of the story of Sadaki and the 1000 paper cranes back in the early 1990s, by way of a song entitled "Cranes over Hiroshima" from American folk singer Fred Small. The lyrics and guitar chords can be found here.


  1. Folding for you as I type...


  2. Yay, you're my first international volunteer!! Thanks Laura, you know where to send them. xx

  3. Have sent a plea round my office, and Gav's office too, asking people to make just 1 crane if they can to add to the collection :) I'm going to start with 50 myself and see how I go from there.