Origami and Kit Kat chocolate bars

Perhaps you were wondering how long it would be before I could link origami and chocolate together in one post? (Truthfully, I actually was wondering about that.) It continually amazes me how origami interconnects with so many different categories.

In Japan, Kit Kat bars are not just chocolate. They are given to friends, family and co-workers as souvenirs after trips. Considered a good luck charm, they are also a favorite with students before exams. The name Kit Kat is close to “Kitto Katsu,” a phrase that translates roughly as “You will surely win.”  I saw one estimate that nearly 4 million candy bars are sold annually. 

Unlike in America, Japanese Kit Kats are released in a staggering array of flavors (over 200 in total). Many flavors are regional or available on a limited basis. Some I can see would be very popular in the United States: strawberry, cappuccino and creme brulee. I’m trying very hard to imagine some other flavors: corn, red potato and soy sauce.

How does this relate to origami? The Nestle company hopes to make all its packaging recyclable/reusable by 2025. Nestle Japan is swapping some of the plastic wrappers on Kit Kats to matte paper. This redesign will include instructions on the wrapper for folding origami cranes. So, you can have a snack and then make origami cranes that smell like chocolate. 


(This author supports fair trade chocolate and sustainably sourced palm oil.)

“Kit-Kat Wrappers Are Being Redesigned For A Surprisingly Cool Reason.” So Yummy, Natasha Lavender, August 12, 2019. https://soyummy.com/kit-kat-origami-wrappers/.  Accessed August 16, 2019.

“Nestlé is replacing the plastic wrapping on Japanese Kit Kats with paper versions that can be made into origami.” Insider, Mikelle Leow,  Aug. 12, 2019. Accessed August 16, 2019.


Reference librarian folds 1000 origami cranes

I am quite excited because I found another librarian who has folded 1000 origami cranes. (I’m sure that there are plenty of others out there, but sometimes the internet divulges them slowly).

As part of the Adult Summer Reading Program, Brad Allard, a reference librarian, organized volunteers at the Clark County Public Library to fold 1000 origami cranes to send to the Hiroshima Peace Park. The final origami crane was folded July 29, 2019. This was perfect timing as their initial goal was to finish by August 1, 2019. They hoped to send the cranes in time for them to arrive for International World Peace Day, which is September 21, 2019. 

Brad Allard developed an interest in origami as an exchange student pursuing his graduate studies in Japan. When he returned to the United States, he began teaching others starting with his parents. “I’d always wanted to do a project like this since I started teaching origami to the adults.”

I completely understand what he means. I had wanted to start this blog or something like it for years. I can imagine how happy he and the volunteers are to have achieved their goal. They have sent the cranes flying off into the world. I suspect he’s already planning another origami crane project.


You can see a picture of the cranes here: https://www.winchestersun.com/2019/08/06/library-to-send-1000-origami-cranes-to-japan/

To see the Clark County Public Library: http://www.clarkbooks.org

Petke, Fred. “Library to send 1,000 origami cranes to Japan .” The Winchester Sun, August 6, 2019.

Maruskin, John. “What’s Happening at the Library: Thousand crane craze continues.” The Winchester Sun, July 1, 2019.

Current crane counts

In case you’d like to know the breakdown of crane information so far, here are some statistics.

I’ve folded 53 of my 1000 crane goal.

I’ve collected 8 stories where I know people met their goal. 

Of those 8 stories, half were undertaken by individuals, and half by groups working together.

4 were inspired by wishes for good health.

1 was political speech.

2 were artistic in nature.

1 was inspired by Eleanor Coerr’s book.

The collective total is 25000. (My current thinking is that each cause/reason being folded for counts as a single story. However, I’m keeping track of the grand total for those times that the crane count goes above 1000.)

Michiko’s One Thousand Cranes

I’ve been debating with myself for quite a while about which origami crane story should be the first to appear on the blog. This one is strikingly poignant because it doesn’t have a definitive ending. It leaves me with lots of unanswered questions. I’m dying to know what finally happened, and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to find out.

On December 17, 1960, the Japan Times printed a story that the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, an organization based in the United States, had received one thousand cranes and wanted to thank the sender. “Michiko” hadn’t included her last name, but mentioned that she was a Girl Scout. The cranes were a thank you to the organization for sending four iron lungs to Hokkaido during “one of the worst polio epidemics in Japanese history.”

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis later changed their mission and became known as the March of Dimes. The Girl Scouts and the National Foundation were hoping to bring “Michiko” to the United States to possibly meet President John F. Kennedy. President Kennedy was a Boy Scout in his youth. This might have been why they thought the two should meet.

There is no mention of President Kennedy ever meeting with a Japanese Girl Scout. I feel like that would have been an irresistibly positive photo opportunity for everyone to share this wonderful story.

Who was “Michiko”? What moved her to fold one thousand cranes for this specific cause? Was she touched personally by polio, or had she known someone that was? What made her fold cranes instead of raising money or some other action? Did she ever find out that they were searching for her? What happened to the one thousand cranes that she had folded?

I imagine “Michiko” going through life happy that she’d made and sent the cranes, and never knowing that people were searching for her. Or perhaps she was just quietly happy that she had touched other’s hearts with her generous gift.


United Press International, “U.S. Bodies Seek Japan Gift Sender,” Japan Times, December 17, 1960, The Japan Times Archives.

President Kennedy was in office from January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963. He achieved the rank of Star Scout from Troop 2 in Bronxville, New York.

A quick word on methodology.

I promise we’ll get to some crane stories soon!

I want to talk briefly about how I’m planning on going forward with this project. Here’s what will and won’t be included in the blog.

Only information that’s publicly available, or previously agreed upon. If you can’t find the information on the internet with a simple search, or I haven’t gotten permission, then I won’t be sharing it in my posts.

I won’t be talking about every story in posts. Some of the information is too vague, incomplete, or impossible to even begin researching. I’ll just add it to the total count, with periodic updates on the current numbers.

Only finished 1000 cranes projects will go into the count. I will talk about current projects happening to fold cranes, but not add them to the completed list just yet. 

I will talk about other origami crane related topics. There are a large number of topics related to folding origami cranes: statues, art installations (that may or may not have a full 1000 cranes in them), historical figures, etc. Each story I find seems to be multi-faceted with different research angles.

There you have it. Four guiding principles at the moment. I’m sure there are other things I’ve forgotten about, but I’m also sure they’ll present themselves soon enough.

August 6th – Why I picked this date to go live.

I’ve been debating the perfect day to ‘go live’ with this blog. For most blogs, any day would be good. (Hey, fellow bloggers, don’t worry like I did– just start your blog!) Because of the subject matter of this blog though, August 6th seems like it was fated. The other two days that seems appropriate were August 9th and Sadako’s birthday, but I couldn’t wait until January 7th to start!

While a dreadful day in human history, it had a great effect on Sadako Sasaki and many others. It inspired Eleanor Coerr to write her book, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977). This book introduced a world-wide audience to the idea of folding 1000 cranes (senbazuru) so that the gods would grant you a wish.

Since then, folding cranes, has become an anti-atomic bomb protest symbol. They are also folded for other kinds of political protest, for weddings, personal growth, and naturally to honor Sadako’s memory. She has become the face of people’s hopes to stop nuclear weapons from ever being used again. There are two statues of her, at the Atomic Peace Park in  Hiroshima, and the Seattle Peace Park in Washington state in the United States. 

I’ve started to fold 1000 cranes for the success of this blog. I hope the stories inspire you. And if you fold 1000 cranes, perhaps I can include your story here as well. 


Sadako Sasaki: January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955.

The uranium-based “Little Boy” atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the B-29 bomber Enola Gay at 8:16am, Aug 8th, 1945. The plutonium-based “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki by another B-29 bomber, Bockscar, at 11:02am, Aug 9th, 1945. For a concise summary of historical events see www.history.com.

Eleanor Coerr (née Page; May 29, 1922 – November 22, 2010) was a Canadian-born American writer of children’s books. Read about her at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleanor_Coerr

About Me

I’m a Boston area librarian. I’ve been interested in this idea for years, and the internet and blogging finally made it possible.The goal is to collect 1000 stories of people folding 1000 origami cranes. Hopefully you’ll be as inspired and entertained as I am by the concept, that it will brighten your life in a sometimes dreary, dark and depressing world. 

I’ve folded 3000 cranes myself for various wishes. And intent to fold another 1000 for this blog. Did I get my wishes? Once that I know of. What did I wish for? Well, none of them was world peace- or we’d know it. 🙂

So, why 1001 (and not a proper 1000)? It seemed a little vain to add my own story in with the 1000. I felt the 1000 should stand on it’s own, and then add mine in for luck. Is this willfully adding to what could be called ‘crane inflation’? I hope not.

This blog may also drift into related topics. History of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, and the Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic blast), and what is currently happening now are closely related in my mind to folding a thousand cranes. I will be careful not to add too graphic pictures. 

I hope you enjoy going on this journey with me, and all the twists and turns it will take.