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Origami Cranes: The Simple Yet Elegant Art of Folding a Piece of Paper


The most graceful way to come to terms with the memory of tragedy and destruction is often through the act of creation. In remembrance of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, staff and volunteers at the Battery Park City Library have been folding paper cranes for the past four months for a "Peace Crane Project." The culmination is a special origami exhibition displayed in the library throughout the month of September.

Japanese legend holds that if you fold a thousand origami cranes your wish will be granted. Sadako Saksaki's story was the inspiration for this project at Battery Park City. A young Japanese girl who lived in Hiroshima during World War II, Sadako developed leukemia due to radiation from the atomic bomb. While bedridden, she began to fold paper cranes. She folded crane after crane until she succumbed to her illness. Her family and friends added to the 644 cranes she folded before her death, and buried her with a total of 1000 paper cranes. There is a statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park where millions of paper cranes are left each year in her memory.

In recognition that Battery Park City Library is the closest Branch to Ground Zero, the Library will be displaying paper cranes in the windows, some with messages of peace written on them, in memory of the victims of 9/11. In keeping with this tradition, below is a list of books and other materials about paper cranes, origami, and the rituals that surround them.

Peace Crane WallPeace Crane Wall

Picture Books

The Origami Master by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer

Shima, an origami master who lives in the mountains of Japan, captures a bird who has been leaving him an origami animal each night. When captured, however, the bird leaves no origami and Shima is forced to see the error of his ways.

Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells

Even though Yoko corresponds regularly with her grandparents in Japan, she decides to create and send special paper cranes to mark the occasion of her grandmother's birthday.

The Paper Crane by Molly Bang

After a new highway that bypasses the street with their business, business is slow for the restaurant owner and his son. After a poor man is kindly treated to dinner one night, the stranger creates a paper crane out of a napkin, which comes to life at the clap of their hands.

How-To Non-fiction

Origami for Beginners by Vincente Palacios

Great for beginners as well as more experiences folders, this book has detailed illustrations and explanations for creating fifty-seven origami models. Choose from simple caps, cubes, and airplanes to more challenging models like baskets, gyroscopes, and even a vampire bat!

Origami Bonsai by Benjamin John Coleman

Have you always admired the beauty of bonsai but were too intimidated to attempt to grow any yourself? With this book, you can make something even better: flowers, branches, and leaves you never have to water or maintain! With more than 250 color photos, this book explains the art of folding paper to create botanical sculptures.

About Sadako

Sadako's and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Hospitalized with leukemia from radiation poisoning from the atomic bomb, a child in Hiroshima attempts to fold one thousand paper cranes in desperate hope that, by doing so, her wish for good health will come true.


Between the Folds (PBS documentary)

Would you abandon your successful career to pursue something you were passionate about? The ten artists featured in this documentary did. This Indie Spirit International Film Festival winner examines the exquisite paper creations of ten origami masters and their respective artistic processes.

Want to learn how to make paper cranes? Join us at the Battery Park Library on Saturday, September 10th for Peace Crane Day! Participants can write remembrances, thoughts, or poems on paper and learn how to transform the paper into origami cranes. This program is open to all ages and the Library will provide instruction and materials.


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Origami Blog

Thank you for your exposition on origami and especially on the story about the paper cranes! I hope your display of paper cranes in the library window will be a message understood by everyone who passes.

Bravo, Anne Barreca! A beautifully written and

lyrically smart/politically & quietly provocative piece. Thank you for writing this.


This is great! I made a crane at work using your step-by-step instructions!

Anne this was a wonderful

Anne this was a wonderful blog explaining the Peace Crane Project. It was a great project and creating something so simply from paper everyone in the community could be involved. Individually the cranes are nice to look at but together they are stunning. Just like this community individuals all work together to form a fantastic neighborhood. The paper cranes look wonderful hung in the library and show a real community spirit in Battery Park. Thank you to all the staff at Battery Park Library who helped make this project such a wonderful success.


Very nice done with the pictures. I have done it with pictures and some text. Maybe it's a good idea for you. My site is:


Thank you for your exposition on origami.

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