Handcrafted origami birds from Hiroshima to tour Coventry - The Coventry Observer

Handcrafted origami birds from Hiroshima to tour Coventry

Coventry Editorial 1st Feb, 2024 Updated: 1st Feb, 2024   0

A STUNNING display of 1,000 multi-coloured handcrafted origami birds sent to Coventry from Japan will tour the city in the coming year, writes Holly Clement. 

The cranes – a symbol of peace, hope and healing – have been created by school students in Hiroshima which fell victim to an atomic bomb in August 1945.

The remarkable gift was sent from the Embassy of Japan and Hiroshima.

Coventry also suffered severe destruction during The Blitz and, like Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is now globally recognised as a City of Peace and Reconciliation.

The cranes symbolise the friendship that has developed between Coventry and Hiroshima over the past 70 years.

Thanks to Hideko Okamoto of the Hiroshima Coventry Friendship Club, more cranes have been made by students at Earlsdon Primary School. The craft was taught by Japanese exchange teacher Yuria Aruse.

It was presented, along with a ‘Japanese artistic calendar’ to Lord Mayor of Coventry, Coun Birdi and Lady Mayoress at Coventry Council House.

The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Coun Jaswant Singh Birdi, said “This work with our young people of Coventry schools is vital so our next generation begin thinking about peace and friendship at an early age.”

Whilst addressing Coventry Lord Mayor’s Peace Committee he added: “Peace and Reconciliation starts with our children building understanding that will guide them in later life.”

The paper cranes have travelled over 8,000 miles and will stay in the Council House for four weeks before touring Coventry libraries for the remainder of the year.

The link between Coventry and Hiroshima sees the two cities celebrate the other annually and share a special camaraderie which is expressed through the intricate paper cranes.

Coventry Cathedral marks Hiroshima Day on August 6 each year and the people of Hiroshima hold an annual service on the anniversary of the Coventry Blitz.


The Peace Tree

The ‘Peace Tree’ installation is made up of cranes hanging from the arms of trees and two information boards about Hiroshima and Sadako Sasaki.

Sadako was only two years old when the first atomic bomb was dropped, only a mile from where she lived.

She seemed to be unharmed but at the age of 12 she became very ill, with radiation sickness.

In hospital she started making 1,000 cranes from her medicine wrappers and, on discovering she would not get better, she prayed for all victims of war.

She also vowed to write the word ‘peace’ on each of the cranes’ wings for war victims all over the world.

She died at the age of 12 in October 1955 when she had managed to make 644 of the origami cranes.

Her friends created the rest to take the total to 1,000 and placed them in her coffin with her.

Japan holds an old belief that a crane can live for 1,000 years and that those who fold 1,000 paper cranes will find happiness and prosperity.

Since the first making, paper cranes have also been a symbol for peace and for an end to all nuclear bombs.

Coun Birdi said “The work of the peace committee allows that to continue; to make sure that message is very much a part of our daily life and our future.”

Visit coventrycityofpeace.uk/sadako-sasakis-story for more on Sadako’s story.


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