In Japan there’s an ancient legend that says magical cranes can live for a thousand years and that anyone who folds one thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. Some stories say you’ll be given eternal good luck, others that you’ll gain good health or a longer life.
Cranes can be made for peace, for luck and for happiness. In Hiroshima there’s a story about Sadako Sasaki, the 12-year-old school girl who made them for all these things when she contracted leukaemia ten years after America dropped the atomic bomb on her home town in 1945. Sadako tried to make one thousand paper cranes, hoping that she could wish to be well again, but died three months into her project.
School children still make these beautiful, fragile cranes to hang on the monuments in the Peace Memorial Park like these ones I found walking around there in May a few years ago. In September this year her relatives donated one of her tiny, finger-nail sized cranes to the Pearl Harbour visitors’ centre with Sadako’s nephew, Yuji Sasaki, explaining: “We have both been wounded and have suffered painfully. We don’t want the children of the future to go through the same experience.”