A Thousand Cranes of Peace

by Angela Bandurka

ARTspot has a small selection of amazing origami papers and the other day I decided to buy some and play around with making cranes. While online searching out instructions, I stumbled across the most amazing story about a little girl who endeavoured to fold 1,000 of them in order to get well from cancer.

Sadako Sasaki was only two when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She lived two kilometers from ground zero when the blast blew out her windows. Several years after the atomic bomb, an increase in leukemia was observed especially among children. By the early 1950s it was clear that the leukemia was caused by radiation exposure. Sadako was one of these young victims. 

She had heard that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes you would have a wish granted, and she used whatever materials she could find - candy wrappers, scrap paper. Before she died she almost reached 1,000.

Sadako's story was highlighted at the opening ceremony of the Goodwill Games 1990 in Seattle wherein Seattle schoolchildren, working from the 644 cranes sent by Japanese schoolchildren, completed the unfinished 356 cranes for Sadako, and sent them aloft into the skies in honor of Sadako and world peace.

This month at ARTspot we had dedicated a window in her honour. The antique typewriter holds a brief story of her life, and the paper cranes we folded with her legacy in mind. If you'd like to fold some paper cranes, come on by - we have a free instructional handout for you!