Senbazuru: The Meaning of Paper Cranes, Culture, and Education

By Staff Writer
August 07, 2023
Senbazaru is a collection of 1,000 origami cranes skillfully strung together on a string, creating a charming display that can be hung from the ceiling. Crafted from a variety of colorful and patterned papers, Senbazuru holds a special place in Japanese culture, symbolizing happiness, loyalty, and strength, and believed to grant the folder’s wish. It has also inspired various artistic representations, becoming an iconic motif found on sake bottles, airline liveries, and even wedding kimonos.
A thousand paper cranes hanging from the ceiling
The tradition of folding a thousand origami was further popularized and globally spread through the touching story of Sasaki Sadako, a survivor of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima during World War II. Sadako-san, who was exposed to dangerous levels of radiation during the bombing, was diagnosed with leukemia at a young age. Inspired by the legend of Senbazuru, she began folding cranes with the hope of being granted a wish for health. Though she didn't complete the thousand cranes before her passing, her family and classmates finished it in her honor.
Sasaki Sadaki's memorial
Beyond its philanthropic applications, the act of folding paper cranes holds educational value. The process requires great manual skills, patience, and perseverance, teaching valuable life skills to those who undertake the challenge. In classrooms, folding origami cranes has become a way to teach children about Japanese culture, empathy, and the power of collective effort.

The art of folding 1,000 paper cranes is not an easy endeavor, which is why it often brings people together. Today, the activity of making Senbazuru has been adapted on a larger scale for charitable fundraising campaigns and awareness projects, showcasing its ability to unite communities and support meaningful causes, including cancer awareness campaigns, recovery from natural disasters, and wildlife conservation efforts.
Kids learning to fold origami
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