Japan: The Legend of the Thousand Cranes


One of the oldest legends of Japan has it that whoever manages to make a thousand origami cranes and tie them all together, will be granted his/her wish. This is usually done by people who wish for a fast recovery from illness.

The myth of crane, associated with good luck and longevity, is almost 1,000 years old. The crane is often given away when there is a birth of a newborn, wishing a long and prosperous life. It is also given away in wedding, as a way of offering a thousand years of happiness to the newly weds. Such sets of paper cranes is one of the deepest charms of Japan, and has also has become a symbol of peace.

The cranes were made famous at the end of World War II, when the 12-year-old girl, Sadako, began to make 1,000 paper cranes as she wished for speedy recovery. She was living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb fell. Soon she was diagnosed with  leukemia as a result of radiation. Sadako could only  complete 644 little birds of paper before she died. Her friends made the rest to complete the 1,000.

When the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima was built, it was devoted to the Children’s Peace Monument. The crane structure has on top a girl holding a paper crane. Every August 6, children from around the world send their paper cranes that are hung on the monument of Sadako in the hope of passing this message around the world.

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