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An Origami Classic – Learn How to Fold a Crane and Impress Your Friends!

Origami has long been loved by people of all ages in Japan. This article focuses on how to make origami cranes, which are famous for the "senbazuru" (one thousand cranes) legend. The crane is a form of origami that most people in Japan have made before. It's not that difficult to make once you know how to do it.

The History of Origami in Japanese Culture

Origami, a form of popular culture in Japan, has been loved by people of all ages since long ago. There are as many different origami motifs as there are stars in the sky, and among them, the crane is the most iconic.

Cranes, known for the elegance of their form in flight, have, together with turtles, been considered lucky omens since ancient times, and are often referred to during special events and recovery from illness.
Both cranes and turtles are considered to signify longevity and vitality, as represented in the expression, "A crane for 1,000 years and a turtle for 10,000 years".
"Senbazuru", the practice of making 1,000 origami cranes and stringing them together to pray for peace or recovery from illness or injury, is a common activity at schools and social service groups, showing the prevalence of origami cranes in Japanese culture.

Among the numerous origami motifs, the crane, known as an omen for good luck, is especially well loved by the Japanese.

A Complete Guide to Making an Origami Crane

Here is how to fold an origami crane.

There are many steps to folding an origami crane, but once you know how to do it, it is not that difficult. The act of "folding an origami crane" can sometimes go beyond entertainment and create the opportunity for heartfelt exchanges with others. Be sure to learn how to make an origami crane.

1. Fold the origami into a triangle

Fold the square origami diagonally into a triangle.

2. Fold it in half

Fold the now triangular shape into two to make a smaller triangle.

3. Open and fold down the triangle

Open one side of the folded triangle and fold it down as if you are flattening it. It will change from a triangle to a square.

4. Fold down the triangle on the other side the same way

Open the other triangle from the inside and fold it down. The origami is now a square.

5. Fold into the center

Fold both edges of the square inward to line up in the center.

Repeat on the other side.

6. Create a crease at the top

Fold down the triangular part at the top as pictured and push it back up to create a crease.

7. Open and fold

Open up the parts folded in 5 and 6 along the creases.

They will open nicely when opened in line with the creases made in 5 and 6.

It will appear as below when seen from the side.

8. Fold into the center

Fold both sides inwards to line up at the center.

Repeat on the other side.

9. Make crease for nakawari-ori

Open the slits on both sides and lift up the bottom of the pointy part and fold it in.

10. Nakawari-ori (inside reverse fold)

Make a nakawari-ori (inside reverse fold) using the crease made in 9 as a guide.

11. Create the general shape

The two pointy parts created through nakawari-ori are the head and tail. The parts in the middle with the largest surface area are the wings. Open the wings to make the general shape of the crane.

12. Make the head and blow air into it to complete the crane

Once the head has been created through nakawari-ori, blow air in through the small opening at the bottom of the body to form the crane for completion. The key to folding cranes is to be particularly neat with the pointed parts. To do so, be sure to be careful and precise from the very first step and do not try to cut any corners.
If it is still difficult to understand with just the images, take a look at the video before you try making one.

Experience Origami in Japan

Origami can be casually enjoyed anywhere in the world, but some motifs are difficult to make without someone teaching you how to make them. There is also paper made specifically for origami readily available in Japan. Origami paper has a great color and just the right thickness and texture for origami.
If you want to further your knowledge of origami or try it out for the first time, why not participate in an origami experience in Japan?

1. Origami Kaikan

Origami Kaikan in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, offers origami classes and sells a wide selection of origami paper. They also have information on a variety of events around the country, including origami and washi (Japanese paper) doll events.

Origami Kaikan

1-7-14 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

2. BIREI kimono & culture

BIREI kimono & culture in Asakusa has a set plan where you can learn how to make origami from English-speaking Japanese staff.

BIREI kimono & culture

Saikodo Village KAME102, 1-18-4 Higashi Komagata, Sumida-ku, Tokyo


In the Kansai area, instructors who make a living as origami artists offer extensive lectures in Osaka and Kyoto. Check with KIMONO TEA CEREMONY MAIKOYA in Kyoto and Osaka for the times and locations of origami workshops.


SEBONG Bldg., 1-22-7 Shin-machi, Nishi-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Origami allows you to create a variety of different forms from just one piece of paper, and it is becoming more and more popular around the world. One of the secrets to its popularity may be that it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Making origami at your hotel, on the train, or when relaxing after a meal while traveling in Japan could be a wonderful way to put you in the travel mood. Be sure to try origami so you can experience how profound and fun it can be!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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