Thousand Cranes

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For the article on 1,000 folded paper cranes, see Thousand origami cranes. For the non-fiction story book about Sadako Sasaki written by Eleanor Coerr, see Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
Thousand Cranes
Author Yasunari Kawabata
Original title 千羽鶴
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Genre Novel
Publisher Kawabata Publishing
Publication date

Thousand Cranes (千羽鶴 Senbazuru?) is a 1952 novel by Japanese author Yasunari Kawabata. The novel is divided into five episodes: "Thousand Cranes", "A Grove in the Evening Sun", "Figured Shino", "Her Mother's Lipstick" and "Double Star".


Set in a post World War II Japan, the protagonist, Kikuji, has been orphaned by the death of his mother and father. He becomes involved with one of the former mistresses of his father, Mrs. Ota, who commits suicide seemingly for the shame she associates with the affair. After Mrs. Ota's death, Kikuji then transfers much of his love and grief over Mrs Ota's death to her daughter, Fumiko. The ending is ambiguous, as the reader is unsure whether Fumiko has committed suicide like her mother.


Tea Ceremony

  • Grace
  • Precision

Red & White

  • Influence
  • Flowers

Decay The tea ceremony decays throughout the novel. It is no longer used for traditional Japanese purposes. Chikako has turned it into a tool for her to meddle with Kikuji's life. She spreads this poison. Tradition is falling apart due to hate.

Fate Kikuji is unable to escape the life that his father left him. He inherits all his burdens and drama. He also inherits Mrs. Ota. Fumiko is stuck in this same destructive cycle too. Her mother only wishes for her to take her place.


This novel is one of three novels cited by the Nobel Committee in awarding Yasunari Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature. The other two books are Snow Country and The Old Capital. The novel was selected for translation and inclusion in the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works.