What came first- the chickens or the blog?

One Thousand Cranes

on April 15, 2013


Last week I helped serve afternoon tea at a lovely wedding. The bride had been very busy and creative making miles of bunting, patchwork heart decorations, cute posters around the walls, and curiously left us with a box of origami cranes made from lots of different coloured papers. I wasn’t sure what the significance of these were, but placed them around tables and suspended them within vases of fresh spring flowers. As the wedding party included a display of owls I decided that this happy couple were big into birds!
When clearing up after the party I “liberated” two cranes. I have tried origami folding with little success in the past. I googled origami cranes and was delighted to discover that the presence of so many cranes was perhaps more than just a hobby but had more significance to the Big Day itself.
The Japanese crane (丹頂) – senbazuru
A thousand paper cranes are traditionally given as a wedding gift by the father, wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be given to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging them in one’s home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm. Several temples, including some in Tokyo and Hiroshima, have eternal flames for world peace. At these temples, school groups or individuals often donate senbazuru to add to the prayer for peace. The cranes are left exposed to the elements, slowly dissolving and becoming tattered as the wish is released. In this way they are related to the prayer flags of India and Tibet.
In Western countries, the custom has been extended from giving a senbazuru to cancer patients to using them at funerals or on the grave.
The thousand origami cranes were popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old when she was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II. Sasaki soon developed leukemia and, at age 12, inspired by the senbazuru legend, began making origami cranes with the goal of making one thousand. In a popular version of the story as told in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, she folded only 644 before her death; in her honor, her classmates felt sorry and agreed to complete the rest for her.

Diagram Instructions
1. Start with a square piece of paper, coloured side up.
Fold the top corner of the paper down to the bottom corner. Crease and open again. Then fold the paper in half sideways.
2. Turn the paper over to the white side.
Fold the paper in half, crease well and open, and then fold again in the other direction.
3. Using the creases you have made, Bring the top 3 corners of the model down to the bottom corner. Flatten model.
4. Fold top triangular flaps into the centre and unfold
5. Fold top of model downwards, crease well and unfold
6. Open the uppermost flap of the model, bringing it upwards and pressing the sides of the model inwards at the same time.
Flatten down, creasing well.
7. Turn model over and repeat Steps 4-6 on the other side.
8. Fold top flaps into the centre.
9. Repeat on other side, so your model looks like this.
10. Fold both ‘legs’ of model up, crease very well, then unfold.
11. Inside Reverse Fold the “legs” along the creases you just made.
12. Inside Reverse Fold one side to make a head, then fold down the wings


So I’m sending the bride and groom love and happiness for their future together.
At our wedding we gave the guests little bags with five sugared almonds for health, wealth, happiness, fertility and long life. At the time it seemed like a perfectly rational thing to do!
And I’m sure you will agree the secret of a good marriage takes more than a string of paper birds or a bag of almonds.
And today I’m sending Mr Gillybirds special love on his birthday, and a little origami gift just for him 🙂


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