The Tale of 1001 Cranes





    So first let us backtrack a little here to give you a little background.  At the beginning of the semester, I met a very special individual, Patrick, who became one of my best friends and one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.  Patrick came to Japan with no background in the language even though he is half Japanese.  However, he not only came with so much enthusiasm to learn about the culture and language, but also brought along with him, out of anything, 1000 origami sheets. 

    We found out early in the year that Patrick was planning on completing 1000 cranes before the semester was over and delivering it to Hiroshima.  There wasn’t really a wish behind making all of this per se, but mostly to be done out of respect and, as cliche as it sounds, world peace.  I thought the whole idea was really cool and offered to help, and thus the endeavor began.  We started out pretty slow actually, because oh 4 months, we thought, was plenty of time.  We asked other students to help fold as well, during breaks between classes, and many didn’t know how to fold a crane so we also had quite a time teaching.  Eventually, folding cranes became a classroom activity, keeping our hands busy (and our minds awake) as we listen to our professors lectured on.

    Months went by and we realized that when we come back from Okinawa would be the perfect time to catch a night bus to Hiroshima to deliver our cranes, and so crunch time really began for the folding.  Unfortunately, it seemed that somewhere along the process, we were missing about 60 sheets, so we had to make do from just plain printer papers.  When the folding was finally finished, the stringing of the cranes also proved to be a time consuming process as we had about 6 of us working continuously for about 2 hours.  When that last crane was strung, it was the feeling of relief that we’d finally finished, right before we had to catch the plane to Okinawa.

    When we arrived at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, we actually spent quite a bit of time making a modular origami ball for our cranes, but when we finished, it was honestly the most beautiful 1001 cranes (the gold one was the 1001st) in the park.  We registered the cranes and hung it in one of the big display boxes at the Children’s Peace Monument.  It was perhaps the proudest moment, as the cranes not only respresent peace and respect, but also all the memories and experience we KGU students had shared together in the past 4 months.

     After parting with the cranes we went off to explore the rest of the park, which, with our luck just coming from Okinawa’s Naha Festival, was hosting their annual Hiroshima Flower Festival.  Every corner of the park had some kind of performance – dancing, singing, athletic contest, and of course tons of food stalls where I had my first taste of the famous Hiroshima-(okonomi)yaki.  We also took the chance to visit the Peace Memorial Museum, which only cost 50 yen (FIFTY YEN!) for admissions.  The museum was truly powerful and really showed an unbiased point of view of the A-bomb incident.

    Coming to Hiroshima and the  was one of the best experience in Japan for me.  If it weren’t for Patrick and his cranes, I might not have considered coming here at all.  Seeing the A-bomb Dome and thousands of cranes just hanging everywhere around the park was perhaps one of the most subtle but powerful image of all. Seeing all the people that was coming and going, tourists or Japanese, with their wide-eyed children admiring the cranes, it’s amazing how with such a painful past, Hiroshima as it is now might just be the most peaceful place of all.

Cranes on display

Our 1001 cranes

Okonomi-miya (okonomiyaki village) - 4 stories high building filled esclusively with okonomiyaki shops

The crowd at the Flower Festival

Miyajima's momiji: bread with various fillings like sweet bean, chocolate, green tea, almond, custard, etc.

Patrick (far left) with the stringing crew

The famous floating Torii gate in Miyajima was unfortunately under construction when we went =(

The Peace Memorial Park with displayed cranes for the Flower Festival with the Museum building in the back

Stringing the cranes

Itsukushima, the floating shrine, in Miyajima