November 11th is Origami day; it is fitting that we discuss one of the most popular origami creations, the paper crane.
Origami is most often associated with the Japanese, although credible sources indicate potential Chinese roots as well as the independent development of paper folding in various parts of the world. Its name is derived from the Japanese “oru” which means to fold, while “kami” means paper. The paper crane, whose origins go back to the Tokugawa period (1600-1868) has several meanings such as a symbol of health, longevity, and happiness.
However, when we think of paper cranes, we are also reminded of Sadako Sasaki. On August 6th, 1945, the United States ordered the B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The initial blast killed over 70,000 people, though thousands later perished due to radiation exposure. Sadako was one of these later victims. She developed leukemia 10 years afterwards.
While I have read multiple interpretations of the legend of folding 1,000 paper cranes, they all seem to center around that folding 1,000 paper cranes will bring good health or grant a wish. In any case, Sadako began folding paper cranes in the hope that she might improve her health. While Sadako eventually succumbed to her illness, she still inspires today people leave paper cranes at the Childrens Peace Monument, located in the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, to remember her life and to celebrate peace.
Should you wish to learn more about Sadako Sasaki, Hiroshima, or origami, the Scott County Public Library has the following resources:
The Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945 by Malam, John
One Thousand Paper Cranes: the story of Sadako and the Children’s Peace Statue by Ishii, Takayuki
Origami for the First Time by Smith, Soonboke
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Coerr, Eleanor
You can see the video about the Paper Crane on our YouTube channel on Wednesday at 8:45 am on this link https://youtu.be/-znB34JDDcY.