Friday 08 Dec 2017

1’000 Origami Cranes for Peace

La Châtaigneraie Primary school students participated in a collective project to fold one thousand origami cranes, following in the Japanese tradition of “senbazuru”. According to Japanese legend, anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish by the gods, or will have eternal good luck. In Japan, strings of the birds are often gifted to newlywed couples by family members, or hung as lucky charms in people’s houses. In more recent times, it has become customary to donate senbazuru to peace memorials in various temples around Japan, most notably in the city of Hiroshima, which was devastated by the atomic bomb “Little Boy” towards the end of World War II in August 1945.

The Ecolint senbazuru hangs alongside other paper cranes at Hiroshima.
The temple in Hiroshima also pays tribute to a “little girl”, by the name of Sadako Sasaki, a two-year old survivor of the bombing, who sadly went on to develop leukaemia caused by the radioactive fallout. Before losing her life in 1955 at just twelve years of age, Sadako started folding her own senbazuru, hoping to secure a cure for her disease. When her premature death brought an end to her project, with only 644 birds completed, Sadako’s school friends folded another 1000 birds in her honour, which were buried with her.
Sadako Sasaki has become a household name in Japan, and she has become symbolic of the terrible impacts of nuclear warfare. A statue of her, holding a crane, was erected in her memory in 1958 in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, with a plaque beneath it which reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.” Many children and other individuals continue to make senbazuru, which are affixed to the monument in Hiroshima and left to disintegrate slowly, forming a poignant reminder for visitors about victims of war such as Sadako, and the ongoing need to work for peace.

The project was the brainchild of Senior Librarian John Kolosowski, himself a former long-term resident of Japan, who told Sadako’s story to students, taught them how to make origami cranes, and worked with both students and staff to make the paper birds. During the October break John personally transported the senbazuru, made predominantly in Ecolint’s colours, to Hiroshima, where it is currently on display. A proud tribute to our ongoing commitment to peace, and a sad reminder that we must never forget.

La Châtaigneraie Librarian John Kolosowski hand-delivered the senbazuru to Hiroshima.

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