June 26, 2012


PaperKrane, for me, started in South Korea 4.5 years ago when I began a new journey as an English teacher at an elementary school in Nowon-gu, Seoul.
    I was a 6th grade teacher (for four years) to one hundred and twenty - not all at the same time thankfully - 12 year old Korean students with more hormones than a KFC burger! But, when all is said and done I loved/love those little buggers! 

    In our down time some of the girls would try to teach me how to fold complex origami shapes (with limited success) and in class every now and again I would use origami folding as a way to gauge their ability to follow instructions in English. 

    After becoming engaged in 2010 - to my now (wonderful) husband Ken - I began to fold paper cranes at every chance I got, including every break time, lunch time and in between. The idea being to fold 1000 paper cranes, a symbol of good luck for a couple on their way to the alter. Students who finished their work/projects ahead of time were 'enlisted' to help me fold cranes... for a small price of course! (They really did love stickers and lollies from Australia and New Zealand!) Not really child labour... is it? (insert nervous giggle here)

    While in Korea I learnt of the story of a Japanese girl called Sadako, who through tragic circumstances popularised the practice of folding 1000 paper cranes. Here is her story (well, a brief version of it...)

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.      

Sadako Sasaki (January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955) was a Japanese girl who lived near Hiroshima, Japan.     

    She was only two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.  As she grew up, Sadako was a strong, courageous and athletic girl. In 1954, at age eleven, she became dizzy and fell to the ground. Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia, the "atom bomb disease".

    Sadako's best friend Chizuko, came to visit her and brought with her some origami (folding paper). She told Sadako the legend of the crane. It is Japanese legend that folding 1000 paper cranes (senzaburu) so pleases the gods that the folder is granted a wish. Sadako wished to get well. So, after hearing the legend, Sadako decided to fold 1,000 cranes.    

    After she folded 500 cranes she felt better and the doctors said she could go home for a short time, but by the end of the first week back home the dizziness and fatigue returned and she had to return to the hospital. Sadako continued to fold cranes. Even though she was in great pain, she tried to be cheerful and hopeful. Not long afterwards, with her family standing by her bed, Sadako went to sleep peacefully, never to wake up again. She had folded a total of 644 paper cranes.

    Sadako's story had a profound impact on her friends and classmates. They completed her thousand cranes and continued to raise money from school children all over Japan to build a statue to honor Sadako and all the children affected by the bomb. 

This story was/is so inspiring, and folding 1000 paper cranes is a great way to honour her memory and courage. 

Of course before Sadako, the practice of folding 1000 paper cranes was something Japanese couples would do before marrying, to show their patience for each other, and to earn their one wish - for a successful marriage. I liked the idea of both of these stories so much that I decided to fold 1000 paper cranes for my own wedding. Which in turn led to me making and styling the entire event! (Not sure I want to go through that again without the proper help!) And that is what led me to where I am today... Still folding origami in front of the tele, and creating my own (no doubt Asian inspired) booties etc!