Bernson's Corner: Origami for Japan - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bernson's Corner: Origami for Japan

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Louisville, KY - (WDRB) -- The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan have drawn the sympathy of people the world over.

One small town feels the pain more than most.  In Bernson's Corner, Barry explores how everyday Americans in Columbus, Indiana are uniquely reaching their hands across the sea.

For Japan, the forces of nature have turned this season into one of sadness: a Spring beyond sorrow.

The people of Columbus, Indiana found a way to send support: making origami, the traditional Japanese folded-paper art: origami birds.  Paper cranes that would symbolically carry hope and comfort six thousand miles away. 

Priscilla Scalf says, "I just kept thinking about how do we as a community reach out to them to let them know that we're here for them, and that we care."

Columbus's sister city is Miyoshi Japan -- a city not physically damaged by the earthquake or tsunami, but psychically -- that's a different story.  Bricks dedicated to the people of Miyoshi are all over Friendship Alley in downtown Columbus.  That's where the cranes are being hung in long strands.

Japanese legend holds that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes gets a special wish.  Every time there are a thousand, they're hung in Friendship Alley.

For days, volunteers at the Eastside Community Center have spent countless hours making the intricately folded cranes.

Scalf explains that the effort is building. "As one person learns it, somebody else would come in.  That person would teach them.  Kids would teach kids."

And so the strands get longer and longer.   These volunteers remember when their town was in trouble a few years ago.  They feel a kinship with the Japanese, since they too suffered a massive flood.

But it's very hard to give in quite the same way from this far away.  This is one way to do it, and it's particularly appropriate in Japanese culture."

So it's each one, teach one. 

It's easier if you've grown up doing origami, like Japanese-born Masako Kaplan.  She says, "I really like the project -- and I really appreciate the thoughtfulness of the people here.  Cranes are not easy to make, and I thought they needed help."

The rain and the sun have already started to weather the cranes --but tradition says only when they disintegrate will the special wishes contained in them be released, and magically come true. 

Each thousand cranes -- in Japanese, each senbazuru -- contains the desire and the prayer for recovery of people these people will probably never meet.

Sue Breeding says, "It's something we can do to help the people there -- and tell them that we do care, even though we're in a different part of the world."

From Columbus Indiana -- Barry Bernson, Fox41 News.

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