Cranes (Tsuru) for Japan... the bird of happiness

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Every day, we have reminders of just how fleeting and sacred life is. And every day, many of us go about our ways, being anywhere but in the moment. Life changed in the blink of an eye for thousands in Japan with the earthquake, then tsunami and then nuclear reactor and radiation scares. Life is sacred. Life is ephemeral - fleeting, like a spring woodland flower.

My lesson of how ones' world can be rocked happened almost 16 years ago (April 8, 1995) when my mother and best friend lost a brief battle with cancer. She had just turned 58. My mom was a very selfless and giving soul, and she instilled that in me from a young age. And so, when this disaster struck Japan, I felt I needed to do something - doing something is better than doing nothing. So I found beautiful origami paper, and I made cranes. (For a video tutorial on making origami cranes look HERE.)The act of folding the paper to makes the cranes became a meditation of sorts. Cranes symbolize healing and I felt that healing as I folded the paper. Cranes remind me of my mother. At her viewing, children came from her school (she was a teacher) and laid origami cranes on top of her. Before they closed the casket, I took one... to remember. So it seemed a good thing to do - make cranes for the healing of Japan. I took photographs of the cranes I made, and also made card sets. My favorite photograph, a red crane with a red flower, and the card set is offered in  MY SHOP where all proceeds from the sale of these items will go to the RED CROSS relief effort in Japan.

How can you help? Here are some wonderful ways to lend YOUR hand.
Make a crane and send it HERE.
Donate to Save the Children.
Support UNICEF's relief efforts in Japan.
Make cranes (great school project) and send them HERE for a donation to SAVE THE CHILDREN.
For those who LOVE TO TEXT: People can also donate $10 by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to support disaster relief efforts in Japan and tsunami relief throughout the Pacific.

                                                   THE LEGEND OF THE CRANE:
Throughout history, birds have been viewed as animals of special value and have been ladened with meanings often derived from legends and stories that have survived over many generations. The Crane may conceivably be the oldest bird on earth; there is fossil proof that they existed over 60 million years ago. Greek and Roman myth tended to portray the dance of cranes as a love of joy and a celebration of life. The crane was usually considered to be a bird of Apollo, the sun god, who heralded in Spring and light. Throughout all of Asia, the crane has been a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tradition, cranes stand for good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years. Existing in fifteen species which inhabit five continents, the most majestic is the Japanese Crane which stands almost five feet tall with its wing span of more than six feet and its white body capped with its red crown. The Japanese refer to the crane as “the bird of happiness;” the Chinese as “heavenly crane” believing they were symbols of wisdom. The powerful wings of the crane were believed to be able to convey souls up to paradise and to carry people to higher levels of spiritual enlightenment. Over time, the crane has also evolved as a favorite subject of the tradition of paper folding – origami. It is said that a thousand folded cranes, one for each year of its life, makes a wish come true.

Shortly after the end of World War II, the folded origami cranes also came to symbolize a hope for peace through Sadako Sasaki and her unforgettable story of perseverance. Diagnosed with leukemia after being exposed to radiation after the bombing of Hiroshima, Sadako became determined to fold 1,000 cranes in hopes of recovering good health, happiness, and a world of eternal peace. Although she completed 644 before she died, her classmates folded the remaining 356 to honor her. A statue was raised in the Hiroshima Peace Park to commemorate her strong spirit.

Today this practice of folding 1,000 cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times. After the events of September 11, as a gesture of support and healing, thousands of cranes were folded and linked together in chains and sent to fire and police stations, museums, and churches throughout New York City.

“O flock of heavenly cranes
cover us with your wings.”

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Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [23 Mar 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria

Mary said...

Joy, this is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this! I have long wondered about the importance of cranes as I see them in a lot of Asian themes. Of course I love all birds, but that's another day. ;) It's wonderful that you are able to share your art, and your soul, to help those reading to both feel stronger and more connected to you and to the world. It does feel nice to be able to do something and I am happy that this honors your brave mom as well. What a tribute! :) ~Mary

MaggieGem said...

Wonderful post, great work with your cranes and photos!

Sending prayers and thoughts for all in Japan and forwarded my photo to Miya Company. 1000 Cranes will help to raise funds for Save the Children and help those in need.

Barbara Palmisano said...

very nice!