The crane , a beautiful water fowl has been a Taoist symbol of long life and good fortune for thousands of years. It is a reminder of beauty and peace. This ancient symbolism has joined the crane with the meditative art of origami. The crane is one of the simplest creations and one of the most beautiful ever divined by origami. "Sembazaru Orikata"(how to fold a thousand cranes) is one of the oldest known books on origami and deals soley with the folding of the paper crane. It is believed that if you could fold one thousand cranes your prayers would be answered.
The beginings of this belief are unknown, but it is a belief now known around the world because of a 12 year old girl named Sadako Sasaki. She was orphaned by the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima and poisoned by the radiation. She spent the last of her life in a hospital bed, folding small cranes from the paper that her medicine came wrapped in. She began praying for her own salvation, but soon changed her wishes for the recovery of the many other children that she watched grow sicker and eventually die. By the time she was gone the prayer had grown into a simple wish for peace in the world and an end to the suffering she had seen. She folded 644 cranes before dying.
Afterwards her story was publicized and other children began folding cranes, trying to complete the thousand. From all over Japan people began sending their cranes to Hiroshima. In 1958 a monument was built in Hiroshima park and a statue was set in the center. Cast in bronze, a little girl holding a paper crane.
Eventually the story was published in Europe in the book "Sadako Will Leben", written by Karl Bruckner(1961). The book was reprinted world wide, and people everywhere began mailing paper cranes to Hiroshima, to be hung in the park with all the others, a symbol of the worlds sorrows and regrets.
This story is true, and one of the only stories I have ever read that made me cry.