A Thousand and One


Morgan Quach

1,000 paper cranes makes a year of good fortune.

It all began with small crafts and objects; just little flowers, bookmarks, cats, stars. We all have to start from somewhere, and sometimes that place is nothing. Nothing is exactly where I started from.

Over the course of my origami “phase,” I heard about a little girl who lived in Japan and died of cancer. Her story was very well-known, and her project to keep herself alive was even more popular. Her name was Sadako Sasaki, and after the 1945 Hiroshima bombing, the young girl became sick from the radiation and was sent to a hospital. She was later diagnosed with leukemia, and was moved to a different hospital that could treat her cancer. While Sadako was sick, she heard about an art project that was said to gift the maker one wish, or an entire year of good luck. The Japanese legend called for someone to make 1,000 origami paper cranes in the allotted time of one year. When I heard about the story from the past of the young Japanese girl, I decided to start folding the paper cranes as soon as possible. As all one thousand cranes need to be folded during the same year, my creations began on January 1st of 2016. 

Many of my peers criticized me for my so called “outrageous” goal and said that it could never be accomplished. Of course my stubbornness just left them behind, and I continued to follow my hopes and dreams. I learned very quickly that year that people were always going to question your motives and your capabilities to do what you love, and that you should still persevere even through the time when you doubt yourself. Looking back on it, I’m glad that I continued with my work, because the day I finished all 1,000 cranes was one of my most memorable experiences. There are only so many times when you experience such a great feeling of accomplishment and the pride of doing what others thought to be the impossible, and I’m glad that this was one of them.

Following the Japanese legend, I strung the paper cranes into large sets of 40 cranes so that there were 25 strings. Each origami crane is separately tied to the string, and a small bead is placed under it so that it doesn’t slip off. The rest of the stringing isn’t completely official, so they can be tied in alternating patterns, heights, lengths of string, or anything else that comes to your creative mind. The strings of paper cranes can be hung from a metal circle for hanging clothes, from the ceiling, or from any other decorative piece. Most of this project comes down to how willing you are to be creative.

As I finished the assembly of my year-long adventure, I discovered a single crane hiding behind my supplies, making the origami project  a thousand and one paper cranes. This crane almost seemed to be there for a reason, and it called out as if it was supposed to symbolize how far I had come and how I had defied what others had said. It was the one extra for the one extra bit of determination to finish, and the one extra paper crane for a hopeful future.