Symbolism Behind Origami Paper Crane

Origami is a form of art that was adopted from China in the ancient times. Origami simply means paper folding in Japanese. (“ori” means fold and “gami” means paper). The square paper of different colors and designs are folded in a variety of ways to create many different shapes and objects. Out of the many objects you can make with Origami, the paper crane or orizuru has a very strong symbolism and a story behind it.  The paper crane became popularized during WWII through the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young 11 year old girl who suffered from leukemia from radiation through the atomic bombing in 1945.

Sadako was only 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima during WWII. However, the radiation effects did not appear in her body until she turned 11 years old. While she received treatment in the hospital, she began to fold paper cranes from her bed. According to legend, folding 1000 cranes will grant the person a wish and Sadako’s only wish was to become healthy again. However, unable to reach her goals, Sadako passed away after she successfully folded 644 cranes. After her death, her friends and family completed Sadako’s unaccomplished dreams by folding the remaining cranes, and placed them in her coffin. Since then, paper cranes became a symbolism of good luck, good health, and world peace.



There is a monument of Sadako holding a paper crane at the Hiroshima Peace Park.  Many sets of 1000 paper cranes are delivered to the memorial park from all over the world each year in remembrance of Sadako and the war. Since peace education in Hiroshima is highly established, children of Hiroshima are taught how to fold a paper school in their nursery schools and kindergarten today.


(Sadako’s statue carrying a crane and 1000 paper cranes in the back.)


(Atomic Bomb Dome)

This year marks the 70th anniversary since the dropping of the atomic bomb in 1945. I pray that someday the world will become a more peaceful place free from war and violence.

See you next blog!


For optional tour reservation and inquiry, please contact or visit one of our Tourist information center in Tokyo.

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