Wednesday, April 15, 2015

wishes and prayers and paper cranes

Of the dozens and dozens of origami (the Japanese art of paper folding) models I used to amuse myself with as a child, the only one I make time for with any regularity these days is the paper crane. This is because of what the crane symbolizes and the role of paper cranes in many aspects of Japanese life even now. Cranes can represent long life, fidelity, happiness, prosperity, health, healing and peace. They are a part of Japanese legend, and folded paper cranes are often used as charms for making wishes come true. 

Friends and family may cooperate to fold one thousand small paper cranes and string them together to celebrate happy occasions such as a wedding or the birth of a child. In this form they are called senbazuru. Senbazuru are also made for the sick, with wishes for healing; and offered to the spirits of those killed in accidents or in times of war, as a prayer for peace.

Although I don't believe paper cranes have any power to grant wishes, I am drawn to the sentiments they represent. So I fold them or I paint them, and I give them to people who understand without my saying so that I hold them in my heart and in my prayers. 


  1. Dear Debbie , I enjoyed your essay -- thank you very much for this; I really enjoy learning about Japanese culture and I like your cranes very much.

  2. What beautiful and creative compassion.

  3. These etegami are beautiful ! I love the colours of the last one. Thank you for explaining about the paper cranes ! With every new post, we learn something new, thank you !