What Does Paper Crane Symbolize? Discover the Meaning Behind this Popular Origami Art

Origami or the art of folding paper is loved and admired by millions of people all over the world. It is a fun and creative way of expressing oneself, and it is believed to have originated in Japan. One of the most iconic and popular origami designs is none other than the paper crane or “orizuru” in Japanese. This small bird made of folded paper isn’t just another paper craft – it holds significant meaning and symbolism that has touched the hearts of countless individuals.

But what does the paper crane symbolize exactly? Aside from being a beautiful piece of art, the paper crane holds a deep and powerful message that has been passed down from generation to generation. In Japan, the crane is a sacred bird that is believed to live for a thousand years. It is said that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish, such as good health, happiness, or success. The paper crane is also a symbol of peace and hope, which was heavily influenced by the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of leukemia after Hiroshima bombing.

Origami

Origami is the ancient Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. It originated from the Japanese words “ori” meaning “to fold” and “kami” meaning “paper”. It is believed to have originated in Japan during the 17th century, and since then, it has spread to other parts of the world and gained popularity due to its meditative and therapeutic benefits.

  • Origami uses a single square sheet of paper, which is folded into various shapes and designs without the use of glue or scissors.
  • It is often used in Japan to decorate gifts, weddings, and other special occasions and is also used in many educational and therapeutic settings to promote relaxation and mindfulness.
  • Origami has also been used in scientific and engineering fields to create prototypes and models for different projects due to its ability to demonstrate three-dimensional structures.

In the context of the paper crane, origami holds significant importance. The paper crane is one of the most traditional and recognizable origami designs, representing peace, hope, and healing.

Origami SymbolismMeaning
Paper CraneLong life, good luck, peace, hope, and healing
Paper BoatJourney, adventure, travel
Paper FlowerBeauty, love, appreciation

Origami is not just an art form but a way of life for many Japanese people. Its intricate and precise folding techniques teach patience, perseverance, and precision, which translates into other areas of their lives. The paper crane, in particular, holds a special place in the hearts of many Japanese people since it has become a symbol of peace and hope, especially after the devastating aftermath of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki was a Japanese girl who was two years old when Hiroshima was bombed with the atomic bomb in 1945. She was not injured at that time, but later in her life, she developed leukemia or the “atom bomb disease.” When she was hospitalized, she learned about the Japanese legend which says that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Her wish was simple – she wished to live.

  • Sadako started folding the cranes but could only complete 644 before she died at the age of 12 in 1955.
  • Her friends and classmates folded the rest of the cranes and buried them with her.
  • Now, paper cranes have become a symbol of peace, hope, and recovery in Japan.

The story of Sadako Sasaki has touched the hearts of people all over the world, and her determination and strength have become an inspiration. The cranes folded in her honor have been displayed in various places as a symbol of peace and hope.

Today, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum displays her original cranes, and paper cranes are sent from all over the world to be included in a wreath that is laid on August 6th to commemorate the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

YearNumber of Cranes
201714,000
201819,000
201920,000
202013,000

Paper cranes are a beautiful and meaningful way to honor Sadako and all those affected by the atomic bomb. They represent a call for peace and a hope for a better future where such atrocities will never happen again.

Hiroshima Bombing

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, killing an estimated 140,000 people, most of whom were civilians. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki, killing approximately 70,000 people.

  • The bombings marked the first and only time nuclear weapons have been used in warfare.
  • Many survivors of the bombings developed radiation-related illnesses, including cancer.
  • The bombings sparked international debate about the ethics and morality of using atomic weapons.

What Does a Paper Crane Symbolize?

Stemming from the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, the paper crane has become a universal symbol of peace, hope, and healing. One of the most poignant stories that emerged from the tragedy was that of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Ten years later, Sasaki was diagnosed with leukemia, a result of exposure to radiation from the blast.

While in the hospital, Sasaki began folding paper cranes, inspired by a Japanese legend that promised anyone who folded 1,000 paper cranes would be granted a wish. Despite her illness, Sasaki diligently folded countless paper cranes as a symbol of her hope for peace and her wish for a world free of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Sasaki passed away before reaching her goal of 1,000 cranes, but her story has since become widely known and has turned the paper crane into a symbol of peace and hope around the world.

Symbolism of Paper Crane

The paper crane is more than just a symbol of hope and peace. It is also a powerful reminder of the complex relationship between war and peace, destruction and creation. The paper crane represents the transformative power of resilience, courage, and hope in the face of tragedy. It has become a symbol of global significance, reminding us not only of the devastating consequences of war and the horror of nuclear weapons, but also of the potential for healing, reconciliation, and hope.

Symbolism of Paper CraneExplanation
Peace and hopeAs demonstrated by Sadako Sasaki, the paper crane embodies the hope for a better world that can emerge from tragedy and suffering.
Resilience and courageThe act of folding paper cranes is an expression of resilience and courage in the face of adversity, symbolizing the strength of the human spirit.
Healing and reconciliationThe paper crane represents the potential for healing and reconciliation, acknowledging the deep pain and trauma caused by war and violence and pointing towards a path of healing and peace.

Peace Movement

The paper crane has become a powerful symbol for the peace movement, particularly in Japan. This connection started with the story of Sadako Sasaki, a young Japanese girl who survived the bombing of Hiroshima, but later developed leukemia. She began folding paper cranes in hope of recovering from her illness, inspired by the Japanese legend that promises anyone who folds a thousand cranes will be granted a wish. Sadako died before she could complete her task, but her classmates folded the rest of the cranes in her honor and buried her with them. Today, paper cranes are often associated with anti-war activism and nuclear disarmament, since they represent a call for peace and healing in the aftermath of tragedy and destruction.

Symbolism and Meaning

  • The crane itself is a symbol of longevity, as it is believed to live for a thousand years in Japanese folklore.
  • It also represents hope and happiness, since it is said to bring good fortune and grant wishes.
  • In the context of the peace movement, the paper crane embodies a message of resilience, peace, and humanitarianism.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Sadako’s story has inspired countless others to fold paper cranes in her honor and spread her message of peace. Her legacy lives on through “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” a children’s book by Eleanor Coerr that tells her story and teaches readers about the power of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity. The book has since become a popular choice for schools and community organizations to teach peace education and raise awareness about the consequences of war and nuclear weapons.

In addition, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum displays thousands of paper cranes sent by people around the world to honor Sadako’s memory and promote peace. Folded from all kinds of paper and in various colors, these cranes represent the collective effort to create a better, more peaceful world.

Paper Cranes and Activism

Paper cranes have been used as a powerful statement for the peace movement in various ways. They are often made and displayed as a protest against nuclear weapons and war, such as during demonstrations and rallies. In Japan, a monument dedicated to Sadako was erected in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, featuring a statue of her holding a paper crane and the message “This is our cry, this is our prayer: for building peace in this world” engraved on the base. Visitors to the monument often leave paper cranes and messages of peace and hope, turning it into a focal point for anti-war activism and remembrance.

Paper Crane ProtestsLocationDate
Paper crane chain over the White House fenceWashington D.C., USAAugust 6, 2015
Paper cranes in front of the Yasukuni ShrineTokyo, JapanAugust 15, 2015
Paper cranes at the CND marchLondon, UKFebruary 27, 2016

These examples show how the paper crane has become a symbol not only for Sadako’s story and the peace movement, but also as a way for people to voice their call for a world without war and violence. By folding paper cranes and displaying them in public spaces, individuals and communities can unite for a common goal and demand change.

Hope and Healing

In Japanese culture, the paper crane holds a significant symbol of hope and healing. The origami crane has been a symbol of peace in Japan since the devastating bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. A young survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, Sadako Sasaki, made the paper crane famous after she folded over a thousand cranes while battling leukemia caused by the radiation exposure. It is believed that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish.

  • Hope:
  • The paper crane represents hope in times of struggle. The process of folding the delicate paper into a crane requires patience, concentration, and skill. It is a process that takes time and dedication, just like the journey of healing and hope. Folding paper cranes can act as a therapeutic practice, giving a sense of calmness and control amidst the chaos. In addition, the gesture of gifting a paper crane to someone symbolizes the giver’s desire for hope, peace, and luck for the receiver.

  • Healing:
  • The art of origami is considered to be a meditative practice. It acts as a form of mindfulness that promotes a state of relaxation and mental clarity, which can aid in the process of healing. The paper crane particularly is seen to represent physical and emotional healing. As one sets their mind and concentrates on folding the delicate paper, it is believed that this can aid in stress relief and relieve anxious thoughts. Also, as one folds the crane, they are reminded of the power of transformation, as the paper is transformed from a two-dimensional sheet to a three-dimensional object. Therefore, the paper crane also represents the power of transformation and a new beginning, which is significant in the process of healing.

The significance of 5 Paper Cranes

The Japanese culture puts a huge emphasis on numbers and their meanings. In the context of paper cranes, the number five holds a great significance. It is believed that folding five paper cranes, rather than a thousand, can still bring good luck. Here’s what the number five symbolizes when it comes to paper cranes:

NumberSymbolism
1stLongevity
2ndLove and Marriage
3rdHealth and Wellbeing
4thHappiness and Success
5thGood Luck and Fortune

Therefore, folding five paper cranes can be a powerful gesture of wishing someone good luck, fortune, and wellbeing. It is said that if you gift someone five paper cranes, it will bring them good luck, while folding five paper cranes for oneself can attract good fortune.

In conclusion, paper cranes have a significant symbolic meaning in Japanese culture. They represent hope, healing, transformation, and good luck. Folding paper cranes can act as a meditative practice and can aid in the process of healing and bringing peace. As such, paper cranes are a beautiful and meaningful gesture that can be gifted or made for oneself, signifying the importance of hope, positivity, and wellbeing.

Memorialization

The paper crane has become a symbol of memorialization, often used as a way to honor and remember those who have passed away. This tradition was sparked by a young girl named Sadako Sasaki, who was diagnosed with leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. According to Japanese folklore, folding 1,000 paper cranes would grant the folder a wish, and Sadako wished for world peace. Sadly, she was only able to fold 644 cranes before passing away at the age of 12. Her classmates finished her goal and her story has spread worldwide, inspiring others to fold cranes in memory of loved ones lost to war, illness, or accidents.

Symbolism of the 6

  • The number six in Japanese cultures represents good luck, which is why folded paper cranes are often given as gifts to wish someone luck. The Japanese word for six, “roku,” sounds like the word for “luck” or “fortune,” adding further to this association.
  • Six paper cranes can also represent longevity, as the number six can be broken down into two sets of three, the number that represents health and vitality in Japanese traditions.
  • In the context of memorialization, six paper cranes can represent a wish for peace and a remembrance of the past, present, and future generations affected by war, illness, or accidents.

Other Symbolic Meanings

Aside from memorialization and luck, the paper crane also has several other symbolic meanings in Japanese culture.

  • Perseverance and resilience: Folding a paper crane is a labor-intensive process that requires patience and dedication, making it a symbol of perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges.
  • Hope and healing: As Sadako Sasaki’s story demonstrates, folded paper cranes can also represent hope and healing, particularly in times of illness or hardship.
  • Creativity and beauty: In Japanese art and culture, origami (the art of paper folding) is considered a form of creative expression and an appreciation of beauty in simplicity.

Symbolic Colors

In addition to the number and shape of folded paper cranes, the colors used can also hold symbolic meanings. Here are some commonly used colors and their meanings:

ColorMeaning
WhitePurity, peace, and sympathy
GoldProsperity and wealth
RedLove, happiness, and good luck
PinkGratitude, admiration, and friendship
YellowEnergy, optimism, and good fortune
GreenHealth, growth, and renewal

It’s worth noting that the meanings of these colors may vary depending on the context, culture, and personal beliefs. However, incorporating symbolic colors into folded paper cranes can add additional layers of meaning and intention.

Education and Awareness

Origami, the art of paper folding, is a form of therapy that has been used to help individuals with various conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Making a paper crane, in particular, has become a popular symbol of hope and healing.

In Japanese culture, the crane is considered a mystical creature that is believed to live for a thousand years. It holds a special place in the hearts of the Japanese people, and they associate it with happiness, longevity, and good fortune. The crane is also a symbol of peace, and it is often used to represent world peace.

The paper crane, specifically, has become a symbol of hope and healing in the aftermath of tragedies, such as the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. One of the most famous stories surrounding the paper crane is that of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb. Sadako believed that if she could fold a thousand paper cranes, she would be granted a wish for recovery. Although Sadako passed away before she could finish folding a thousand cranes, her story has inspired millions of people around the world to fold origami cranes as a symbol of peace and hope.

The Number 7

  • The paper crane is made by folding a square piece of paper into the shape of a bird with a long neck and wings.
  • It is said that folding 1,000 paper cranes grants you a wish.
  • The number 7 is significant in the folding of paper cranes because it represents the seven steps involved in the origami process.

The Paper Crane and Education

Origami, including the paper crane, is becoming increasingly popular in educational settings. It is being used to teach young children basic math concepts, such as fractions and geometry, and to help them improve their fine motor skills.

Origami is also being used as a teaching tool for subjects such as science, engineering, and architecture. The principles of origami can be applied to solving real-world problems, such as designing a solar panel or a foldable car.

The Paper Crane and Awareness

The paper crane has become a symbol of awareness and support for a variety of causes. In addition to being a symbol of peace and hope, the paper crane has become a symbol of support for cancer patients and their families.

CancerColorPaper Crane Meaning
Breast CancerPinkHope and Support
Lung CancerPearlAcknowledgement and Support
Childhood CancerGoldHope and Awareness

Many cancer patients and their families will fold paper cranes as a form of therapy or as a way to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

The paper crane is a powerful symbol of hope, healing, and peace. It has captivated the hearts and minds of people around the world and has become a symbol of education, awareness, and support for a variety of causes.

Japanese Culture and Traditions

Japan has a rich culture and tradition that includes the art of origami, the folding of paper. One of the most popular origami designs is the paper crane. The significance of the paper crane goes beyond its aesthetic appeal, as it holds cultural and symbolic meaning in Japanese society. In this article, we will explore what does paper crane symbolize, particularly in relation to Japanese culture and traditions.

The Number 8

The number 8 holds great significance in Japanese culture, and this is particularly important when it comes to the paper crane. In the Japanese language, the word for eight is “hachi,” which sounds similar to the word for “fortune” or “wealth.” As such, the number eight is often associated with good luck and prosperity.

  • The paper crane is often folded in sets of 1,000 or senbazuru, which means “one thousand cranes.” This is because there is a Japanese legend that says if a person folds 1,000 paper cranes, their wish will come true. This tradition is often practiced by people hoping for good health, success, and happiness.
  • During the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, held annually on August 6th, people come to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to fold paper cranes and offer them as a symbol of peace and hope for a world free from nuclear weapons. It is said that the spirit of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died of leukemia as a result of the Hiroshima bombing, lives on in the paper cranes.

Through its association with the number 8, the paper crane has become a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, and hope in Japanese culture.

The Use of Colors

In addition to the symbolism of the number 8, the colors used in the paper crane also hold meaning in Japanese culture. Traditionally, a crane is folded using a single square sheet of paper, and it is often made in white. However, varying colors are used to communicate different sentiments.

Here are some common colors used in the paper crane and their associated meanings:

ColorMeaning
WhitePurity, sincerity, and peace
GoldWealth, prosperity, and good fortune
RedLove, happiness, and marriage
BlackMisfortune and death (not typically used in the paper crane)

By incorporating different colors in the paper crane, one can communicate different meanings and sentiments in Japanese culture.

In conclusion, the paper crane is more than just a beautiful origami design. It holds significant cultural and symbolic meaning in Japanese society, particularly in relation to the number 8 and the use of colors. By understanding the significance of the paper crane, we can gain a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture and traditions.

Art Therapy and Mindfulness

The Symbolism of the Paper Crane

The paper crane is an origami bird that holds a special significance in Japanese culture. The act of folding paper cranes is known as Senbazuru, or the art of folding 1000 cranes. In Japanese lore, it is said that anyone who folds 1000 paper cranes will be granted their heart’s desire.

The Number 9

One of the most interesting aspects of Senbazuru is the focus on the number 9. In Japanese numerology, the number 9 is said to be a particularly auspicious number. It is seen as a symbol of longevity and good fortune, and is often associated with high levels of spiritual awareness.

  • It takes 9 separate folds to create a paper crane.
  • According to Senbazuru tradition, folding 1000 paper cranes will take 9 hours per day for 25 days.
  • The number 9 is the highest single-digit number, making it a symbol of completion and perfection.

This focus on the number 9 plays an important role in the mindfulness and therapeutic benefits of folding paper cranes. By taking the time to focus on each fold, the practitioner is able to cultivate a greater sense of presence in the moment. Additionally, the repetitive nature of folding 1000 cranes can be meditative, allowing the mind to slip into a state of calm focus.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Paper Crane Folding

There are multiple therapeutic benefits associated with the practice of folding paper cranes. One is the mindfulness aspect mentioned earlier. The act of folding each paper crane can be meditative, helping to quiet the mind and reduce stress. Additionally, the repetitive nature of folding 1000 cranes can help relieve anxiety and improve focus.

The act of folding paper cranes is also a creative outlet. Many people view it as a form of self-expression or as a way of sharing their craft with others. As such, the process of folding paper cranes can be a way of building self-esteem and fostering a sense of accomplishment.

Therapeutic Benefits of Paper Crane FoldingHow it can Help
Mindfulness and MeditationReducing stress, improving focus, calming the mind
Creative ExpressionBuilding self-esteem, fostering a sense of accomplishment, sharing crafts with others
Social ConnectionBonding with others over a shared interest, building relationships

Overall, the art of folding paper cranes offers a multitude of mindfulness and therapeutic benefits. Its focus on the number 9 adds an extra layer of symbolism and significance, making it a powerful tool for those seeking to cultivate greater well-being in their lives.

World War II Impact on Japan

The impact of World War II on Japan was far-reaching and devastating. Japan had entered the war with the hope of becoming a dominant world power. However, the country faced a series of crushing defeats that ultimately ended in Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. Japan was forced to surrender, marking the end of the war and the beginning of a new era for the country.

  • The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: On August 6 and August 9, 1945, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. These attacks were the first and only time in history that atomic bombs have been used in warfare. The bombings resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people and left many more injured and suffering long-term effects of radiation exposure.
  • The surrender of Japan: Following the atomic bombings, Japan was forced to surrender to the Allied Powers. This marked the end of the war but also initiated Japan’s post-war reconstruction period. The surrender also saw Japan lose its empire, with territories like Korea and Taiwan being returned to their own rule.
  • The Occupation of Japan: The Allies led by the United States launched a military occupation of Japan that lasted between 1945 and 1952. The occupation aimed to demilitarize and democratize Japan while drafting a new constitution for the country.

The impact of World War II in Japan’s culture is seen in the significance attached to the symbolism of the paper crane.

SymbolismMeaning
Paper CraneIn Japan, a paper crane is a symbol of peace, hope, and recovery. The bird is also immortalized in the famous book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, where a young girl diagnosed with leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima folds a thousand paper cranes in hopes that she will recover.

The paper crane is a reminder of the devastation that Japan faced during World War II, but also of the country’s remarkable resilience and hope for the future. The symbolism of the paper crane remains an essential element of Japan’s cultural heritage and serves as an enduring representation of peace and hope.

What Does Paper Crane Symbolize?

1. What is the history behind the paper crane symbol?

Paper cranes are a significant part of Japanese culture, and they were first introduced by a young girl named Sadako Sasaki, who suffered from leukemia after being exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

2. What does the paper crane symbolize in Japanese culture?

Paper cranes represent peace, hope, and good health. They are often given as gifts during weddings, births, and other significant occasions.

3. What does the folding of a paper crane signify?

Folding a thousand paper cranes is thought to bring good luck and fulfill one’s wishes. Additionally, folding paper cranes is seen as a meditative practice that promotes mindfulness and concentration.

4. What is the significance of a paper crane in the story of Sadako Sasaki?

Sadako Sasaki believed that if she could fold a thousand paper cranes, she would be granted a wish for good health. Although she passed away before completing her goal, her story inspired others to fold paper cranes as a symbol of peace and remembrance.

5. How is the paper crane used as a symbol of peace?

During World War II and beyond, paper cranes have been used as a symbol of peace and anti-nuclear advocacy. Many organizations, including the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima, use paper cranes as a way to commemorate victims of war and nuclear weapons.

6. Are there any variations of the paper crane symbol in other cultures?

In China, paper cranes are believed to represent long life and good health. In Korea, they are seen as a symbol of fidelity and prosperity. Overall, paper cranes hold a significant place in many cultures’ traditions and beliefs.

7. Can anyone learn how to fold a paper crane?

Yes, anyone can learn how to fold a paper crane with just a sheet of paper and patience. There are many online tutorials and resources available to help beginners learn this craft.

Closing Thoughts

We hope that this article has provided you with a deeper understanding of what the paper crane symbolizes. As you can see, paper cranes hold a special place in many cultures and can represent hope, peace, and good health. So go ahead and fold a paper crane for yourself or someone you love. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!