Currently, it takes some time to respond to comments because I have some other things I have to prioritize.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Origami - the traditional folding paper

It's a Japanese traditional culture to fold a thousand pieces of crane-like folding papers and give them to patients hoping their early recovery from sickness or injury.
When the tremendous earthquake occured in Chili, some Japanese people planned to send Senbazuru (a thousand pieces of crane-like folding papers) to the victims of the earthquake. Senbazuru does have good meaning for the Japanese, but how would the victims feel if they received 1000 pieces of crane-like folding papers when they are desperate for vital supports such as food and drink? It was discussed on a Japanese bulletin board, and most users were critical about the plan, and they insisted that it was mere self-satisfaction because people in Chili needed substantial supports and they didn't know the culture. I think it's reasonable that they send Senbazuru together with food and drink since it can support them both physically and mentally, but the mental support solely is not enough and it might even disappoint the victims.

What do you think of this case?
Cake before flowers, or flowers before cake?

          Senba-Tsuru                                     A piece of crane-like folding paper



  1. I think it's a really nice thought that shows mental support, but non-Japanese people may not feel the same connection to a Senbazuru and may not understand it's meaning or significance. I think it's much more important to take care of the imminent physical needs first such as food, water, and shelter to help ensure no more casualties are taken by the population.

    After their immediate needs for survival are taken care of, then i think it's the best time to send in the metal comfort. Things such as letters of hope, Senbazuru, teddy bears, and everything that brings mental comfort to the effected would be welcomed I'm sure, but are not needed immediately for survival.

    These things are very nice, and are very important to help comfort the mentaly traumatized people- but sadly do little to help take care of their physical needs. I've always loved the Senbazuru traditional Japan, i think it's a very thoughtful and kind thing to do. How did such a tradition come to be?

  2. (After their immediate needs for survival are taken care of, then i think it's the best time to send in the metal comfort.)
    So reasonable. I wonder people in societies with the background of Christianity are more familiar with charity and volunteer than Japanese people.

    (How did such a tradition come to be?)
    The oldest description of Senbazuru is in a book written in 1797. There’s an old saying “a crane lives for 1000 years and a turtle lives for 10000 years.” Both animals are supposed to live for a very long time in Japanese culture. I think the number of the crane-like folding papers has a lot to do with this traditional view that cranes live for a thousand years. The long-lived animal is a symbol of healthiness.

    According to Wikipedia, there are some other purposes of Senbazuru, and I’m ashamed of not having even heard about them. Maybe the traditional Japanese cultures are fading away. “A thousand paper cranes are also traditionally given as a wedding gift by the folder, who is wishing a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple. They can also be gifted to a new baby for long life and good luck. Hanging a Senbazuru in one's home is thought to be a powerfully lucky and benevolent charm. They are also used as a matchmaking charm for a Japanese girl when she turns 16 years old. She would make 1000 paper cranes and give them to an admired boy.”

    Interestingly, the descriptions above were found only in English Wikipedia. It’s assumable that those who use wikipedia in English have higher interest in Senbazuru than Japanese Wikipedia users.

  3. Thank you for explaining it to me, Japan has so many interesting traditions and such a wonderful history and culture. ^-^