My friend Liz at Blarneycrone picked up on my post and made it much better with a link to instructions for folding said cranes. Also a terrific picture, which I repost (or, how do you say, steal) here. And if you learn better by video, click this youtube link and take your pick.
Sitting in small groups, fifth-graders at Bradley Elementary School in East Boston methodically folded colorful pieces of paper into beautiful cranes. They made baby cranes and mama cranes as well as blue and green cranes. They hope to send the cranes to survivors of the Japanese earthquake, as a symbol of their concern.
“We’re trying to foster good will,’’ Timothy Nagaoka, who teaches Japanese at several Boston schools, told the class. “What you’re doing is a very noble cause. Many people text or send donations, but you don’t always have to send a text or give money. There are other ways to show that you’re thinking about them.’’
We all feel the same, heart-sick, heart-broken, heart-aching for the people of Japan. I've been thinking about Sadako and the thousand paper cranes and the belief that wishes are granted to those who fold that many. Sadako Sasaki, two years old when the bomb was dropped near her home in Hiroshima, died of leukemia when she was almost 12, having folded 664 cranes, short of her goal of 1000. Her classmates finished for her.
In Japan, when others are ill, people fold cranes. And when babies are born. And when people marry. And for good luck.
When he was eight years old, my husband learned to fold cranes at a Thanksgiving dinner with his grandparents in New Hampshire. Soon after we met, he taught me; we both taught our kids, who became quite good at origami. It became a family tradition to fold cranes in restaurants and leave them with our tips. For a few years in the 1980s, there was a Japanese paper store in nearby Newton Centre; we bought many sheets and folded large hanging cranes for friends.
All I can think to do now with the does-not-compute scale of this cascade of tragedies in Japan is to start folding cranes, a thousand million trillion, which still won't be enough.