no. 87 – Fold 1,000 origami cranes

According to Wikipedia, Origami, from ori meaning “folding”, and kami meaning “paper” is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which started in the 17th century AD at the latest and was popularized outside of Japan in the mid-1900s.

I decided to add folding 1,000 origami cranes on my bucket list in 2008 after a trip to Japan. We visited the Peace Park at Hiroshima dedicated to the victims of the first ever atomic bombing during the second World War. I was curious with the presence of thousands of origami cranes in one part of the park and I was told of Sadako Sasaki’s story.

Sadako was a girl who lived in Hiroshima. She was two years old at the time when the atomic bomb was dropped. Because of the effects of radiation, she developed leukemia. According to ancient Japanese legend, anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted any wish by a crane such as long life or recovery from illness or injury because the crane in Japan is one of the mystical or holy creatures and is said to live for a thousand years (source: Wikipedia). Β Believing in this legend, Sadako began folding them. Unfortunately, she became too weak to fold after 644 cranes and she died shortly afterwards. Her story was chronicled in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

Ever since, the crane has been a symbol for peace and a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was built in the park. Every year on Obon Day ( a holiday in Japan to remember the departed spirits of one’s ancestors), thousands of people leave paper cranes near the statue and thousands are sent from all over the world. On the statue is a plaque: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth.”

Clockwise from left: map of the city before the a-bomb, map after the a-bomb, what’s left of a building after the bombing, Sadako Sasaki memorial, thousands of paper cranes sent from all over the world

I realized that this is the best time to start folding paper cranes because I find myself sleeping during our review classes for the Nurses Licensure Examination (especially the post-lunch session). Having something to grab my attention other than taking notes (which I do not diligently do) and listening will keep me awake. First off, I re-learned how to fold one because 5 years make you forget some things. That’s where Google comes in. I tried following instructions from different sites and I found this one to be the easiest and most helpful. Others’ instructions are impossible to follow and in some videos, the teacher talks and explains too much. I tried folding one using post-it.


Next stop was to look for nice origami papers, with prints, like what I saw years back. Unfortunately, origami is not a mainstream hobby in the Philippines. Hence, I settled for these from the ever reliable National Bookstore. One pack contains 20 sheets for 13.50 php.

The size was 6X6 inches which is too big in my opinion given that I will secretly fold during review classes so I divided one sheet into 4 pieces, 3X3 inches each.

I looked for a container to put my papers in, packed them in my bag and went to school everyday folding from the second up to the last step while the lecturer hammered knowledge in my brain. Talk about multi-tasking. I did not open yet the crane because it took too much space so I left the final steps for after school while browsing the web and waiting for pages to load, etc.

I track Β my progress every review day. Some days I only fold 5 (sometimes nada) which means the lecturer was so good I paid attention AND looked at him all the time. So, the amount of cranes is inversely proportional with the reviewer’s greatness. haha

After almost a month, I am done! My wish will be a secret until it comes true.

Now I’ll have to look for another thing to keep me awake during review classes. Sighs.

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