Origami Cranes Project

Remembering Hiroshima – Banning Nuclear Weapons

140,000 Origami Peace Cranes Project

In 2015 P&J volunteer Atsuko Betchaku started this project aiming to make 140,000 origami peace cranes to remember those who were killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and to  express the hope that this will never happen again and highlight the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons – the Ban Treaty – as a way to ensure that.

Since then people have been making paper cranes at workshops in Edinburgh, at the P&J Centre, in churches, libraries, at home, even on buses. We’ve received peace cranes from many countries including France, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. And now we have exceeded our goal! Well done everyone who has contributed.

Now we want to create an Exhibition. We’re planning for August 2021 at the Just Festival in Edinburgh to celebrate the ratification, by then, of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty

As the 2020 Fringe Festival has been cancelled we are now planning for the exhibition to be part of the August 2021 Just Festival in Edinburgh and for it to travel internationally following that.

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Iliyana Nedkova as Curator for the Peace Cranes exhibition.

Here’s a note from Iliyana:

“I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed the Curator of the Origami Peace Cranes exhibition. With a background in curating contemporary art, film, dance, drama and design with over 25 years of experience, I can’t help but aim to attract Scottish and international artists with socially proactive practice who are passionate about the issues of nuclear disarmenment and environmental breakdown as much as I am – I grew up on the other side of the Iron Curtain and was terrified of the nuclear war waged by the two evil empires of Soviet Union and USA!

We will aim to put all the 140,000 cranes and the efforts of all the incredible volunteers who have contributed so far centre stage in the exhibition and the wide public engagement programme not only as part of the Just Festival but also as part of Edinburgh Art Festival in August 2021. Thereafter, we will try to tour the exhibition to partner museums in London, Zaragoza, Leiden and Hiroshima. I am really looking forward to meeting most of you in these strange times of isolation via Zoom to discuss our exhibition ideas further.”

You can check out Iliyana’s curatorial portfolio here: https://iliyananedkova.wordpress.com/

Cranes Exhibition Group

Want to help with the exhibition? There will be lots of opportunities for volunteers to help with the exhibition, from threading cranes into long strands at home during the lock down, to contributing ideas, to teaching exhibition visitors to make cranes.

Iliyana will hold an initial meeting with prospective volunteers via Zoom Friday 24 April 11am – 12noon (Link open from 10:45am to allow time to arrive for 11am start). Anyone who wants to get involved is welcome to join the meting. Email us for details of how to log in to the meeting or find the link in the Centre News section of the current issue of P&J News. Let us know if you can’t make the date but want to be part of this project.

Folding paper cranes is done in memory of the children killed by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs because of the story of Sadako, a Japanese girl who was just two years old, living in Hiroshima when the atom bomb was dropped. Sadako later developed leukemia and while in hospital heard the legend that anyone who folded 1000 paper cranes would have their wish granted. Wishing for peace Sadako set out to fold One Thousand Paper Cranes before she died aged 12. There is a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane stands in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.  
crane 1

The atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima on 6 August 1945 killed 140,000 citizens by the end of the year. Currently each nuclear warhead held by the UK is considered eight times more powerful than the one dropped in Hiroshima. If it is simply multiplied by eight, 1.12 million more than one fifth of the Scottish population would be dead. Later this year it is planned that the British government will renew Trident, the Britain’s nuclear weapons system, costing £182bn. Currently Britain holds four nuclear submarines and 215 nuclear warheads. Faslane, near Glasgow, is home to such nuclear weapons in the UK.

Organise a Workshop

January Paper Cranes

Although we have over already assembled over 140,000 schools and community groups that want to have children make origami cranes and send them in to us can still be included in the exhitition. 

(Some extra cranes will be used to display in other places to advertise the main exhibition.) A couple of suggestions for this are:

Children can write their names on the wings –  Write a wish on the other wing – Take group photo with their cranes – Include a note saying number of cranes, name of school and class group and any message they want to send along – Thread the cranes on one long thread with just a small enough gap between them so each crane can be seen and add a tag at the bottom end indicating name of school etc.(This arrangement would be great for the exhibition as we can hang cranes from high up in the roof space.)

Cranes can be posted to:

Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, 25 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9BX 

Download a flyer to advertise your own origami cranes workshop here
Download “How to make an origami crane” Flyer Here.
Watch a video of How to Make an Origami Crane Here.
 Who started the project?
Copyright@Susan Bittker

Copyright@Susan Bittker

Atsuko Betchaku, a Japanese woman living in Edinburgh for around 18 years started this project in 2015. Sadly Atsuko died in early 2017. Atsuko obtained a PhD in history at the University of Edinburgh. She said “I was always wondering why Japan experienced two atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When I was a teenager I visited Nagasaki in my school trip. We learnt stories of Nagasaki atomic bomb victims. My feeling was simply against war and no more Nagasaki and Hiroshima. After that I gradually learnt Japanese armies committed atrocities in other parts of Asia during the World War II. I also met people who congratulated the atomic bombs dropped in Japan. Wars divide people and  Japanese were dehumanised. Without dehumanisation, such a devastating bomb would not have been utilised. Depending on the political context, any group could be victimised. We can get rid of nuclear weapons if we can get rid of wars and discriminations.”

Please click here to visit the original project website.

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© Peace and Justice