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Japan Book Club: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes – Part 1

February 12, 2012

This week we’re starting a new book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  This book tells the story of a young girl who was just a toddler when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  As you’ll learn in the book, despite appearing healthy immediately after the blast, ten years later, Sadako develops leukemia because of the radiation.

The book isn’t just about the after affects of the bomb, but also teaches a little bit more about the Japanese spirit (kind of like The Big Wave) and about some Japanese mythology.

To completely understand the book, you have to know the story of the Thousand Origami Cranes.  So, do a little research on the legend of the paper birds and report back here what you’ve learned.

In your own words, share the legend.

This book is only about 65 pages, and a lot of those are pictures, so we’re only going to take just two weeks to read it.  Read as much as you can/want this week.  Finish it next week.  

Every student in our Japan group is required to participate.  You must comment on this post with your thoughts, then come back and comment on what other people have said – you are required to make an effort to keep the conversation going by replying to at least 2 other students (more than just “I agree” or “you are right.” Give them reasons why you agree/disagree or what they said that was meaningful – make this a discussion). 

Next week we’ll be reading The Master Puppeteer by Katherie Paterson – you should begin looking for your own copy at a local library or book store soon.  Amazon.com has some cheap used copies available too.  
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85 Comments leave one →
  1. jackie permalink
    February 12, 2012 5:20 pm

    Something i have known for a while, is that it is a myth in Japan that is a person folds 1000 paper cranes, they receive a wish. It always stayed with me even though it was a random fact in a book i read about 2 1/2 years ago. When I read the title back when we were told this was an upcoming book, i remembered this and it gave me the premonition that something bad was going to happen. Now, after seeing that Sadako get Leukemia from the radiation, I have a bad feeling that this book is going to end in tragedy.

    • Tyler Webber permalink
      February 14, 2012 8:07 pm

      Have you already read this book?

    • Mark Burjek permalink
      February 19, 2012 11:52 am

      I think she is going to die, but I really hope she reaches 1,000 before the cancer takes over.

    • Tyler Pearson permalink
      February 19, 2012 2:56 pm

      maybe she did tyler, maybe she did.

      • February 19, 2012 3:05 pm

        I’m confused Tyler. This is the second time you’ve replied to someone else (Sidney once and now Jackie) and you called them both Tyler. What’s up with that?

        • February 20, 2012 2:56 pm

          i think he is replying to tylers reply, but under sidney and my comments.

  2. Nate Zurawski permalink
    February 12, 2012 8:34 pm

    I actually read this book last year when Mr. Curtis recommended it to me. I found out that if you make 1000 paper cranes you get a wish as jackie said. Sakado has actually had a memorial made for her in Hiroshima and I think we will be able to see it. People who have cancer take up the 1000 paper cranes still today just like Sakado.

    • Tyler Webber permalink
      February 14, 2012 8:08 pm

      Do you really believe that making 1000 paper cranes would give you a wish?

      • Nate Zurawski permalink
        February 19, 2012 7:13 pm

        It would be awesome, but I don’t think so.

    • Jessica Sherwin permalink
      February 19, 2012 8:30 pm

      I wonder if the cancer patients now make it to a 1000, and if they DO get a wish? I hope they do, since there are many miracles in this world.

  3. Tyler Webber permalink
    February 14, 2012 8:06 pm

    I this book you can learn so much about paper cranes, as Jackie and Nate had said before. I have a feeling that the book may not end well since Sakado did get a form of cancer. I am excited to keep reading on in Sakado, looking forward to see what happens next!

    • Sydney Bebar permalink
      February 21, 2012 8:06 pm

      I’m curious to see if she makes it, what would her wish be? would she wish for a cure, or would she have grown over time and wished for something to benefit another?

  4. Ben Trouvais permalink
    February 18, 2012 12:50 pm

    The myth says that if you fold 100 paper cranes, your wish will come true. This had started because, in traditional Japanese legends, the crane was said to live for 1000 years. When you folded 1000 paper cranes, one for each year the crane lives, you would be granted a wish. Because the crane represents life or recovery from illness, these would be the most typical wishes one would make.

    • Mark Burjek permalink
      February 19, 2012 11:53 am

      I wonder if you are able to wish for anything you want, or if you can only wish for recovery from illness.

      • Nate Zurawski permalink
        February 19, 2012 7:14 pm

        Hmmm that’s a good question Mark… What would you wish for if you made the cranes?

        • February 20, 2012 3:01 pm

          i would wish for eternal life, and obtain all the worlds knowledge…. but i dont think a tiny paper bird can do that.

        • Ben Trouvais permalink
          February 22, 2012 5:02 pm

          Personally, I would wish that I would be able to live my life the way I want to. I would be able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted without being told otherwise or having other obstacles get in the way.

          • Yazmine Thomas permalink
            March 3, 2012 12:27 pm

            I would wish for 10 more wishes ! So I can have everything I need and want.

          • Alyssa permalink
            March 25, 2012 4:36 pm

            I agree with you, Ben. That just seems like the best wish, living how you want with nothing in your way.

      • Austin Stein permalink
        February 20, 2012 1:38 pm

        Actually, I pondered that too. It isn’t said that it has to be a specific type of wish, as I’ve only seen it being said A wish, like in general. Then again it could be illness-based as it is the crane’s symbol, health. Interesting; I hope someone looks into that!

      • March 11, 2012 9:47 pm

        I think you can wish for what ever you want. But its more common for sick people to try to make 1000 cranes, becuase they wish to feel better.

    • Bobby Cortesi permalink
      February 22, 2012 9:20 pm

      i found it very interesting that the reason the japanese chose it to be a thousand years is because the crane is said to live for a thousand years.

  5. Mark Burjek permalink
    February 19, 2012 11:51 am

    Legend has it that if you fold a 1,000 paper cranes, a crane will appear to you and grant you any wish. I think it would be awesome if a bird appeared to you and gave you never ending life. The crane lives for a thousand years, so a thousand folded cranes equals a great wish. Sadako’s intent from the beginning was to wish that she could keep on going with cancer keeping her in the hospital. I have read about half the book, and I hope she eventually reaches her goal.

    • Cj moody permalink
      February 19, 2012 10:06 pm

      I like the little description you gave with your answer…

    • Ebony Alvarado permalink
      February 19, 2012 10:34 pm

      it is said in the legend that i found, that she eventually did not make it sadly. but i find it amazing, that with her 500 paper cranes she had created, it still granted her ! amazing gift for her to get well as she wanted.

    • Blair Tuider permalink
      February 20, 2012 12:42 pm

      I agree it would be pretty cool to be granted a wish by folding a thousand cranes. Wouldn’t it be a little frightening if your wished to live forever though? I’m sure Sadako did but living forever can be good and bad.

    • Sydney Bebar permalink
      February 21, 2012 8:04 pm

      I think that if she does make her goal, she would have grown over time and might even wish for something to benefit someone besides herself.

      • Jacob Kosinski permalink
        February 27, 2012 4:15 pm

        I think that it would suck to live forever because everyone you knew would die eventually and life might start to get boring after a while.

    • Alyssa permalink
      March 25, 2012 4:37 pm

      The crane living for 1,0000 years was not something i had heard before. Thanks for the new info Mark.

  6. Ms. Tadey permalink
    February 19, 2012 1:52 pm

    I had read that sometimes people give 1000 cranes as gifts, this is especially common at weddings. It was a way to give people good wishes and luck. This made me wonder if we have any similar traditions in our culture here in the U.S. or perhaps within our individual families. My family is Polish and we share the Oplatek as a way to wish each other good luck for the new year.
    Does anyone else have traditions that mirror the Japanese gift of 1000 cranes?

    • Cj moody permalink
      February 22, 2012 2:56 pm

      No, actually I can’t think of any others but that’s a very good connection….

  7. Tyler Pearson permalink
    February 19, 2012 2:55 pm

    I’ve known the myth of the thousand papaer cranes for a while now, and it says folding 1000 paper oragami cranes will grant you one wish, all because of a legend that says cranes can live for 1000 years. Because cranes represent health, this would commonly influence the wish.

    • Jessica Sherwin permalink
      February 19, 2012 8:42 pm

      I didn’t know that cranes represented health, I guess I learned something knew about birds.

    • Ebony Alvarado permalink
      February 19, 2012 10:36 pm

      i wonder if you are able to wish for good health and if it will come true .

    • Blair Tuider permalink
      February 20, 2012 12:39 pm

      I did not know that cranes represented health at all. They are beautiful birds, I always learn something new everyday, but rarely so I ever learn a new fact about birds.

    • Austin Stein permalink
      February 20, 2012 1:34 pm

      Wow. Did not know that. That is quite interesting. 😀

    • Zach Ciko permalink
      February 20, 2012 4:21 pm

      I actually didn’t know that cranes represented health, interesting fact

      • Shane Chetney permalink
        February 20, 2012 7:13 pm

        i didnt know either Tyler. So thank you. Now every time i make a “get-well” card, ill draw a crane on it.

    • Bobby Cortesi permalink
      February 22, 2012 9:23 pm

      i didn’t realize the crane represented health i see how it ties in with the story because Sadako develops cancer.

  8. Jessica Sherwin permalink
    February 19, 2012 8:26 pm

    I had to research the legend of the thousand paper cranes for tapopedia back in late January (I think) and come to love the myth. The myth, that is a little different depending on where you hear it from, is when you fold a thousand cranes, you will be able to obtain one wish. This is where the myth changes depending on the information that you got: some people say only people who are sick can get the wish; while others say anyone who folds them can obtain the wish. Along with researching for the legend, I already came across Sadako’s story and read a brief summarization about her, so I was excited to find out we would be reading “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes”.

    • Drew Burjek permalink
      March 14, 2012 5:18 pm

      Jessica, I love the myth too, it is deffinatly one of my favorite myths ever. I think it is cool how people think differently about how you could get the wish. Do you think that if you fold 2,000 cranes, you would get 2 wishes?

  9. Cj moody permalink
    February 19, 2012 10:02 pm

    I think she will reach some where close to that number of 1000 but not get totally there… She obviously won’t make it through the cancer… Pretty sad:(

    • Cj moody permalink
      February 19, 2012 10:04 pm

      Also… The 1000 cranes would give her the wish but she won’t make it that far to get the wish

    • Kevin Wilson permalink
      February 29, 2012 9:16 pm

      I agree with you I don’t think she will make it to the 1000 paper cranes, however, i do think she will make it close.

  10. Ebony Alvarado permalink
    February 19, 2012 10:31 pm

    the myth is said that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, you are granted 1 individualy special wish, and that it so pleases the gods. i also read , that sadako had folded 500 paper cranes and had wished to get better, and when she did, her pain came again.

  11. Blair Tuider permalink
    February 20, 2012 12:35 pm

    In Japanese culture the thousand origami crane is said that if you fold a thousand paper cranes then you are granted a wish. As for Sadako, her wish might have or have not come true. Folding a thousand paper cranes takes time and commitment. I worry that Sadako won’t be able to finish her journey with the paper cranes.

    • Shane Chetney permalink
      February 20, 2012 7:10 pm

      i agree with you Blair. I worry that she wont make it to her goal but i believe more that she will be able to do it.

      • March 11, 2012 9:44 pm

        But I think her friends and family will finish the job for her afterwards.

    • Yazmine Thomas permalink
      March 3, 2012 12:57 pm

      I agree with blair too .It took me like 20 minutes just to make one , she would have to make paper cranes 24/7 and it would be even harder if she has a job but she probably doesn’t because she has cancer.

    • Drew Burjek permalink
      March 14, 2012 5:21 pm

      I still think it is tragic that Sadako died before she could make her cranes. I think it would have been great if her family finished it for her, like what Alex said.

  12. Austin Stein permalink
    February 20, 2012 1:30 pm

    In Ancient Japan, there was once a myth of The Thousand Paper Cranes. It was said that the one who would be able to fold and create one thousand paper cranes would be granted one wish by a crane itself. With Sadako, she tries to fold the one thousand to get better from the cancer the atomic bomb gave her at the age of two.

    • Zach Ciko permalink
      February 20, 2012 4:19 pm

      I think this myth is unrealistic because if someone how needs this wish is usauly sick like Sadako. Which means they would most likly not be able to achive 1,000 paper cranes in time if they really could get a wish

  13. Zach Ciko permalink
    February 20, 2012 4:14 pm

    In Japanese cuture there is a myth that if someone folds 1,000 paper cranes they would be granted 1 wish. Sadako tries to get that wish since she had cancer. She had the cancer because of radiation from the bombing of Hiroshima when she was little. Yet she never got there, but folded about 500 cranes and died.

    • Ben Trouvais permalink
      February 22, 2012 5:10 pm

      I know that folding 1000 paper cranes grants you A wish, but I wonder, if you fold 2000 does that mean you get 2 wishes? Is it possible to use it over again or is it a one-shot deal?

      • February 26, 2012 6:27 pm

        I’d theorize not. In very many types of mytholgy there is only one chance to wish for something. As I know from Mr. Doerr’s class, culture tends to diffuse, and ideas from other cultures become integrated into a society. This is what happens in alot of mythologies, and this is why many show parallels. I’d guess the same for this legend.

        • Jacob Kosinski permalink
          February 28, 2012 5:28 pm

          I agree with you Canrad it seems pretty unlikely that you would get two wishes if you folded 2000 planes.

        • Kevin Wilson permalink
          February 29, 2012 9:10 pm

          I agree with Conrad as well I think that you would only get one chance at something like that because if you could get more then one it wouldn’t be something special it would be something people do all the time and they would abuse it or take advantage over it and wish for things they shouldn’t. However I would think that you could only get your wish granted if it was a reasonable wish and you had people’s and your best interest at heart so you wouldn’t be greedy. I mean if you are going to die I would think that would be different story.

  14. Shane Chetney permalink
    February 20, 2012 7:09 pm

    In Japanese culture the thousand origami crane is said that if you fold a thousand paper cranes then you are granted a wish.As for Sadako, her wish might have or have not come true. Making oragami takes a lot of time and patients. I believe that Sadako will finish her gpal to fold the 1,000 paper cranes and recieve her wish.

  15. Sydney Bebar permalink
    February 21, 2012 8:02 pm

    I remember from an article online that to Japanese, for a miracle to occur you need to fold 1000 paper cranes. This caught the attention of this girl dying from cancer, so obviously she tries to make 1000. I dont think she will make it, but I think she will have peopl make them with her to halp her reach 1000 quicker.

    • February 26, 2012 6:20 pm

      I did some research and it appears that Sadako will only live for a few weeks. She probably had Chronic Leukemia, which can have no signs at all, which turned into acute Leukemia, which is deadly within weeks.

  16. Bobby Cortesi permalink
    February 22, 2012 9:17 pm

    The legend of the paper cranes says that a person that folds 1000 paper cranes receives a wish by a crane. The crane is thought to be a mystical or holy creature to the Japan. Also half way through making the1000 cranes something good happens to the person, in this case sadako got her appetite back and some of the pain began to go away.

    • Elise Vice permalink
      March 1, 2012 8:04 pm

      I think it’s crazy the lengths people will go to for a ‘wish’ to come true. It’s also really interesting to hear the stories behind all of the legends and myths.

  17. Jacob Kosinski permalink
    February 26, 2012 6:08 pm

    Basicly the legend of 1000 paper cranes says that when you fold 1000 paper cranes you recieve a wish by a crane. The crane in Japan is a mystical creature and is said to live for a 1000 years. This is probably why you have to fold a thousand paper planes to get a wish.

  18. February 26, 2012 6:09 pm

    Japanese legend has it that if one folds 1000 paper cranes, that a bird appear and the person is granted a wish. In the story, sadako is diagnosed with lukemia at age eleven. A friend tells her the legend of the paper cranes, and her wish is to get well, so she starts folding.

    • Lyssette Bedolla permalink
      March 27, 2012 6:39 pm

      I feel bad for people who desperate enough to make 1000 paper cranes. if I was in a postion like that I would probably do the same. not that I would make it that far it takes me 20 minutes just to do one.

  19. Drew Burjek permalink
    February 26, 2012 6:56 pm

    In Japan, the legend of the 1,000 paper cranes says that if you fold one thousand paper cranes, you will get a wish from a crane, like long life or recovery from sickness. In Japan, cranes are mythical creatures said to live to be 1,000 years old. 1,000 paper cranes are very common gifts from fathers at weddings, to wish the bride and groom 1,000 years of happiness. I think she will be very close to dieing, and she will get to one thousand, but wish that everyone will be happy and she could die in peace.

    • Hannah Schram permalink
      March 4, 2012 8:13 pm

      I didn’t know that the cranes were common gifts at weddings but I very much so agree on your prediction for Sadako.

    • Kamil Czaplinski permalink
      March 26, 2012 12:16 am

      I would have never thought of giving someone a paper crane for their wedding. That’s interesting how something so little can have so much meaning.

  20. Kevin Wilson permalink
    February 29, 2012 8:57 pm

    The legend of the paper birds, in Japan, says that if you can make 1000 paper cranes you receive one wish. It was said that if you were sick and you made 1000 paper cranes that you could wish to be healed and it would come true. In this story Sadako is diagnosed with leukemia from the radiation that the atomic bomb let off. She attempts to folds these cranes so she could be cured of her disease. I don’t think she will make it but I think she will get close.

    • Elise Vice permalink
      March 1, 2012 8:06 pm

      I think this myth could give a lot of people hope, and that’s why people chose to believe in it.

      • Meghan Moreno permalink
        April 3, 2012 5:37 pm

        Yeah, it could give them hope when they have nothing left to rely on. I don’t know if I would believe it though.

  21. Yazmine Thomas permalink
    March 3, 2012 12:49 pm

    A paper crane represents peace.A crane is the most popular bird in Chinese history and is a symbol of longevity and auspiciousness . In Japan, they are considered to be a national treasure.Cranes are said to have the legendary lifespan of 1,000 years, which is why many people think that if they make a thousand paper cranes they will get a wish.

    • Hannah Schram permalink
      March 4, 2012 8:15 pm

      I agree on your whole response but I never knew they came from Chinese history! You did some good research.

      • Nailah permalink
        March 6, 2012 5:15 pm

        I also agree I mean people all over do it and to them it’s good luck for their health

      • Lyssette Bedolla permalink
        March 27, 2012 6:31 pm

        I agree with you hannah I also did not know the crane had some chinese background to it. yazmine did do some good research I did see anyone else with that. Good job!

  22. Hannah Schram permalink
    March 4, 2012 8:12 pm

    According to Japanese legend, the myth of the 1,000 paper cranes state that if you make 1,000 paper cranes, then you will recieve one wish. In most cases, people would make these cranes for a wish to recover from sickness. In Japan, these cranes represent a very holy creature in which are said to live for up to 1,000 years. In the story, a girl named Sadako gets cancer from the radiation the bomb left on Hiroshima and decides to make 1,000 paper cranes in hope to feel better.

    • Kamil Czaplinski permalink
      March 26, 2012 12:08 am

      I really like how the Japanese have so much hope in life and nature and everything around them. Their point of view on life is very interesting.

    • Meghan Moreno permalink
      April 3, 2012 5:35 pm

      I bet a lot of people during the time when Japan was bombed would have liked to receive a wish from a Japanese crane. So many people were sick and dying, but I think it would be so hard to make 1,000 paper cranes in time.

  23. Nailh permalink
    March 6, 2012 5:14 pm

    Well the paper cranes have been told and made for many years….many people with health issues do the 1000 paper cranes to give themselves good luck.

  24. March 11, 2012 6:05 pm

    When you make 1000 paper cranes, a Japanese crane will appear and grant you one wish. That’s all there is too.

  25. Alyssa permalink
    March 25, 2012 4:35 pm

    What i know, as many people do, is that the legend says when you make 1,000 paper cranes, you receive a wish from a Japanese crane.

  26. Kamil Czaplinski permalink
    March 25, 2012 11:59 pm

    The Japanese myth about the 1,000 paper cranes is that if you fold a total of 1,000 paper cranes, you will be granted a wish. In the story, Sadoko is diagnosed with cancer from the radiation, and decides she will try and receive this wish by making 1,000 paper cranes.

  27. Lyssette Bedolla permalink
    March 27, 2012 6:27 pm

    the legend of the 1,000 paper cranes states that if you fold a total of 1,000 paper cranes, you will be granted a wish by a crane. which is said to live 1,000 years. the cranes represents life or recovery from illness which are the most common wishes. though the cranes are still common for medical issues they are even more common with marriage. People send paper cranes to the bride and groom as a wish for a long and prosperous marriage. Other times they will fold the cranes to wish congratulations on a 50th wedding anniversary.

  28. Meghan Moreno permalink
    April 3, 2012 5:33 pm

    The legend is that if you make 1,000 paper cranes, you will be granted one wish from a Japanese crane.

  29. Elise Vice permalink
    April 11, 2012 2:07 pm

    I find this legend very interesting. What is says, is that if you are to fold 1,000 paper cranes you will be granted a wish by a crane. Most people use these wishes on more serious things, such as true love, medical issues, and money issues.

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