Yao Yang

Paper cranes have a special place in Japanese culture, as popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki. After developing leukemia following the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, she started folding cranes during her time in the hospital, following a Japanese legend that said that 1,000 paper cranes would be granted a wish.

“Different versions of the story come together — they both convey the idea of cranes symbolizing peace, good love, long life, and the idea of community as well,” said Laura Yoshihara, president of the Nikkei Student Union on campus.

Emphasizing the sense of community, Yoshihara organized this event of folding paper cranes for commemoration of the 2014 tragedy in Isla Vista. Through this event, she aims to show that the UCSB community is unified and there for each other in a time like this.  

As a second year biopsychology major who was not around at the time of the tragedy, Yoshihara said that even though she does not know the victims of the shooting personally, it hits her hard to hold onto their memory.

“I feel like we’re just in college and we have so much to be looking forward to,” Yoshihara said. “The fact that these people are having the same ideas I did — I look forward to finding a job, to get married and have kids, to get retired and live in somewhere … The idea that these dreams can be taken away, that scares me a lot.”

She started to learn about what happened when a guest speaker in one of her summer classes talked about the exhibition of 300 cranes in 2014. It was a healing event held by CAPS for folding cranes, and all the works were displayed along the spontaneous memorial sites.

“Then this idea went back into my mind that it might be a good thing to do for our club, as cranes are symbols of blessing in Japan. Just as the year went by, the seniors here were freshmen when it happened. It is basically the last year when people were here first-hand, so we had to make it happen this year,” Yoshihara said.

“It is an event to bless our community and enable people to make something to commemorate the tragedy,” said another host of the event, Kayla Kigawa, a third year biology major. More importantly, Yoshihara and Kigawa hope more people will come by and take part in this event, even if it’s just stopping by and folding one crane. And if one doesn’t know how to make a crane, there will be people able to teach.

All the cranes made will be displayed in an eight by five layout with 25 cranes on each of 40 strings. “It will be like in three dimensions, hanging down from the third-floor bridge of Student Resource Building so that it can be pretty visible,” Yoshihara said.

“We also have this idea where we want to do strains containing just blue cranes, collaborating with “blue night” since they are one of the organizations that helped us out at time and till this day. So we come out with the idea of adding some only blue strains and doing six of them for each of the victims”. The works are planned to be up by May 22, a day before the actual anniversary on the 23rd.

The folding cranes event will take place every afternoon 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. until May 12 at the SRB OSL Resource Center (Room 1104).

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