I took a walk through the Children's Museum of Science and Technology in Troy, New York recently and happened upon these beautiful paper cranes. I first learned how to make an origami crane when I was eight or nine years old, and to this day, enjoy the art of folding paper. There is a Japanese legend that promises anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, or will be granted eternal good luck. A grouping of one thousand paper cranes on a string is known as a senbazuru, and these are sometimes hung outside temples to add to the prayer for world peace. Like Tibetan prayer flags, they are exposed to the elements and slowly weathered over time as the wish is released.
There is also the story of a Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki, who was only a few years old when Hiroshima was bombed in World War II. As written by Eleanor Coerr, Sadako grew sick from the radiation exposure by the time she was twelve and, inspired by the legend, began her journey of making one thousand paper cranes. There's some debate as to whether she finished making her senbazuru. In the story, she only managed to fold 644 before passing way. However, according to her older brother, Masahiro Sasaki, she actually exceeded one thousand and continued folding paper cranes until she died. Interestingly, she left this earth on the same day I celebrate my birthday.