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The art or craft of folding paper to shape objects is origami. Projects range from simple designs that small children can do to complex works of art displayed in museums. It can be an amusement, a way to make simple toys or to create decorations.

1000 cranes for Japan

origami cranes

The paper used for origami projects varies from old newspaper or regular writing paper to specialized, colored, thin paper, tissue paper to dollar bills and other paper money. The history of origami goes back to soon after the development of paper. Paper was relatively new and expensive at the time. Folding paper was a way of "signing" it. It was also a way to decorate a special gift.

In Japan, one of the first places to develop paper, origami is part of many traditions. One is that someone who folds a 1,000 paper cranes will be granted a wish. So, 1,000 cranes became a wedding gift, with hopes for a long and prosperous marriage. The story of Sadako Sasaki grew out of this practice. She was a child who developed leukemia after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. At the suggestion of a friend, she folded cranes in her wish to get well. Her story has been told in many ways, in books, poems, and songs. One book is Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a children's book written by Eleanor Coerr. Due to this story, it has become common in many places to give a paper crane as a symbol of a wish that an ill person get well.

Kirigami is similar to origami, but includes a combination of folding and cutting to create shapes and designs.

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