San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Folding for peace, remembering Hiroshima

Making 1,000 origami peace cranes is no small achievement. The trick is to fold and fold and fold a square of paper until a bird-like critter emerges. Millions have mastered the trick, and these paper cranes have become a peace symbol around the world.

Aug. 1-3, the Children’s Museum became a hatching ground as children and grownups tried their hands at folding 1,000 origami cranes. The idea came from the Center for Education for Peace (CEPPA), a non-government organizaton that promotes alternatives to violence through workshops, talks and meetings. Folding paper cranes and listening to the story of Sadakp Sasaki, whose goal of making 1,000 paper cranes has inspired peace around the world, was part of a peace weekend which included a twenty kilometer run for peace. August 6 is Hiroshima Day.

Volunteers from CEPPA and a group of young people from an origami club demonstrated, folded and taught the process. Andrea Vargas had never folded a crane before, but by midday had accomplished 15 and expected to make another 25 before packing it in. Alfredo Guitierez, a club member who can fold all kinds of forms, had already made 80 cranes. As an origami expert he thought it was easy. Others struggled, but seated around two tables they managed to make a colorful pile of folded cranes, thanks to a generous donation of bond paper by the Jiménez and Tanzi office supply company.

The thousand cranes and possibly more will be on display in the museum’s art gallery, and later will be sent to the peace memorial in Hiroshima, courtesy of the cultural office of the Japanese embassy.


Visitors try their hands at paper crane-making at the Children’s Museum in San José. 

Mitzi Stark

The display pays homage to Sadako Sasaki, who wished to live by making paper cranes and turned them into a world-wide symbol. Sadako was two years old on August 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima, where she lived. She survived the bomb blast but fell ill to leukemia a few years later. Friends encouraged her to follow an old Japanese legend and fold 1,000 paper cranes and her wish would come true. But after completing 644 cranes, she died. School friends finished the task and the cranes became a symbol of hope and peace. Every year, children and adults from all over fold cranes and send them to the peace memorial dedicated to Sadako and other child victims in Hiroshima.

The Center for Peace Education (CEPPA) is a nongovernment organizaton designed to help people find alternatives to violent responses and to foment a culture of peace. CEPPA works with teachers, health workers, prisoners and communities. For information, contact CEPPA at 2234-0524 or visit

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