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Paper cranes

The orizuru (折鶴 ori- "folded," tsuru "crane"), or paper crane, is a design considered the most classic of all Japanese origami.[1] It is a representation of the Japanese red-crowned crane which has a special significance in Japanese culture. It is often used as a ceremonial wrapper or restaurant table decoration.[2] It is also used as a mathematical model.[3] A thousand orizuri strung together is called senbazuru (千羽鶴), meaning "thousand cranes".


The term renzuru (連鶴 "conjoined cranes"?) refers to an origami technique whereby one folds multiple cranes from a single sheet of paper (usually square), employing a number of strategic cuts to form a mosaic of semi-detached smaller squares from the original large square paper. The resulting cranes are attached to one another (e.g., at the tips of the beaks, wings, or tails) or at the tip of the body (e.g., a baby crane sitting on its mother's back). The trick is to fold all the cranes without breaking the small paper bridges that attach them to one another or, in some cases, to effectively conceal extra paper.

Typical renzuru configurations include a circle of four or more cranes attached at the wing tips. One of the simplest forms, made from a half-square (2x1 rectangle) cut halfway through from one of the long sides, results in two cranes that share an entire wing, positioned vertically between their bodies; heads and tails may face in the same or opposite directions. This is known as imoseyama.[4] If made from paper colored differently on each side, the cranes will be different colors.

This origami technique was first illustrated in one of the oldest known origami books, the Hiden Renzuru no Orikata (1797). (Updated diagrams from this early work can be found in a current book by Japanese origami author Kunihiko Kasahara.)

Folding the orizuru[edit]

Instructions on folding the origami crane, using the Yoshizawa–Randlett system of notation.


  1. ^ The East 1970 Page 293 "Follow the instructions on the next page. Crease the paper tightly, and you will obtain clear-cut J forms. The first in our series is the orizuru (folded crane), which is the most classic of all Japanese origami. The process of folding is not so simple."
  2. ^ Patsy Wang-Iverson, Robert J. Lang, Mark Yim Origami 5: Fifth International Meeting of Origami Science 2011 Page 8 "The older pieces are ceremonial wrappers, including ocho and mecho, and the newer ones are the traditional models we know well, such as the orizuru (crane) and yakko-san (servant) [Takagi 99]."
  3. ^ Mathematical reviews American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Association of America 2004 Page 349 "The author describes how to fold the orizuru and the generalized orizuru from paper other than a square. Many figures explain the procedure."
  4. ^ Joie Staff (2007). Crane Origami. Japan Publications Trading Company. ISBN 978-4-88996-224-6. 
A very small orizuru