One Thousand Cranes

In 1955, a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki made approximately 1,300 origami cranes. She was trying to invoke the power of a folk tale that promised the granting of one wish to anyone who could fold one thousand cranes. Whichever gods were responsible for following up on that promise must have been occupied with other business in 1955, because Sadako died on October 25th of that year. A resident of Hiroshima, she had been only one mile away from the location at which we dropped the atomic bomb. She died of leukemia.

The popularization of Sadako’s story has turned it into a universal call for world peace, and the folding of paper cranes has become a physical realization of that call. A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced (via my friend Nate) to a Portland knitter and artist named Seann McKeel. Seann is inviting knitters to knit and felt one thousand cranes (ten per knitter), which she will display publicly late next year.

Would you like to participate? Is your stash waiting for a higher calling? Then download the pattern (along with information about deadlines and where to send your cranes) right here.

20 Comments

  • twig says:

    What a great idea. I’ve printed out the instructions

  • Lori says:

    What a great project. Thanks for the info.

  • Sean says:

    Sounds very cool.

    Have you made any cranes yet? I’d love to see a finished product. I don’t think I quite understand the instructions for stitching it up. You know me and my terror of sewing!

  • Anne Sheridan says:

    I’m sooo in! I have tons of scraps and just taught my husband to knit. This will be great
    to move him past scarves! Plus we live in Vancouver, WA, right near Portland! Love the cause!
    Thanks!

  • Kathy Sasson says:

    I like the idea. Whenever we do something with intent, that intent is turned into a concrete reality. The intent for peace is powerful, because it will become a reality.
    Would you please sent a picture of the finished project?

    Thank you,
    Kathy

  • Brady says:

    This is great, I’m totally signing up since I live here in PDX. Thanks for the heads up, can’t believe this is the first I’ve heard of it.

    Thanks!

  • sakurasaku says:

    I am definitely in. I am a Japanese expat knitter/crocheter who grew up in Hiroshima. Promoting peace was therefore a big part of my upbringing. Thank you for the link and for turning our attention to a meaningful cause.

    BTW, thousand cranes is a prayer…or even a charm…for recovery from disease and for long life, not exactly something for a general wish fulfillment, but they got the gist and I’m not complaining :-). In Hiroshima, it has come to symbolize our wish for peace because of Sadako’s story, and you can still see cranes sent from all over the world in the city on memorials and such. I find it very moving.

  • yarn boy says:

    Thanks for the correction! Sometimes the gist is the most you can expect when specific cultural information gets translated by a different culture.

    I didn’t make it to Hiroshima on my visit to Japan a few years ago, but I would really like to go there on my next visit. I really want to see the cranes.

  • Miss Bliss says:

    When I was in New York after 9/11 I was walking with my friend past one of the fences that was covered in memorial items. I kept seeing these strands of folded colored paper all over the fences. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were but finally I got close enough to one to see that each strand was a thousand cranes folded and strung one on top of the other. I burst into tears when I realized what they were, I don’t know why the cranes moved me so powerfully, but they did and they still do.

    This sounds like a wonderful project.

  • Rose says:

    How nifty. I love the story of a Thousand Paper Cranes. I remember reading a book about it as a child.

  • denis/e says:

    what a noble stash-buster! i’ll circulate this to my circle tomorrow morning. thanks YB! peace

  • Mary says:

    Just as a minor correction, Sadako never managed to finish folding her 1000 paper cranes. She only managed a little over 600 before her illness overtook her. After she died, her classmates folded the rest so that she could be buried with the 1000.

    http://japan.lisd.k12.mi.us/resources/jumppages/sadako.html

    This is a great idea, and I’m reading the pattern now. Thanks for letting us know.

  • yarn boy says:

    There’s actually considerable debate over whether Sadako actually finished the cranes. The stories that I read as a teenager had her classmates finishing them for her, while more journalistic accounts have her completing well over one thousand before her death. At this point, the story is probably too mythologized for anyone to ever know which one is “the truth.”

  • callie smith says:

    The instructions are just a bit confusing… there is no page five in the booklet??

  • sile says:

    I will echo all the other comments—-it’s a great idea. The cranes are usually white but of course they would very cool in other colours as we all delve into our stashes!
    Síle

  • Lolly says:

    Many thanks for posting about this!

  • Marilyn says:

    The site is knitnotwar.com (noT rather than no) and the email to RSVP for the project is knitnotwar@gmail.com. I just signed up and I’m really looking forward to participating. I was involved in an origami crane memorial in 1985 on the anniversary of the date of the Hiroshima bombing. It was also the date the USSR instituted a morotorium on nuclear testing and invited the US to join them. The US governement continued nuclear testing (much to the distress of my 6-year old self).

  • Melanie says:

    lovely project. I only just foind it but I’ll see what I can do.

  • Jake was a baseball player most of his life. He was a very good baseball player. He was in a baseball league. Then, he got struck down by a terrible sickness. He had cancer.

  • Alicia says:

    Origami Crane ??e2809c photos and info | Japan Travel Mate Oct 28, 2010 Japan’s orimgai crane is a national symbol of Japanese art and culture. The traditional and perhaps

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