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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Japanese Bridal Torture

A.K.A. 1001 Cranes

Weddings are really all about traditions. They can be old traditions, new traditions, religious traditions, cultural traditions, traditions that you look forward to or traditions that drive you mad.
I love traditions. I really looked forward to this particular wedding tradition because of its cultural significance and meaning. I'm half Japanese and half Puerto Rican and B is Chinese so I wanted to infuse some of our culture into our wedding.

My friends, I introduce you to 1001 Cranes!

A little history lesson for you:
It all started in ancient Japan with the Sembazuru also known as the folding of 1,000 cranes. Legend said that if you have a wish you could fold 1,000 cranes and your wish will come true.

In many asian cultures cranes are a symbol of luck and prosperity. They represent longevity because they were said to live 1,000 years. Did you know cranes also mate for life? They stay together always taking turns caring for their little cranettes.

Eventually it became a tradition for the bride-to-be to fold the Sembazuru to wish for a long, prosperous marriage full of chocolate souffles and world-travelling and personal libraries. I'm pretty sure thats what they had in mind in ancient Japan.

As the world became more of a melting pot the folding of cranes (or paying of people to fold them) became a tradition in many other asian cultures.

And then the Chinese stepped in and said, "Gold represents prosperity and wealth, we will make the wedding cranes in gold."

And then the Hawaiians said, "Eh bra, add one mo da crane, make dat mo bettah luck."
Translation: Hello friend. If you add one more of the cranes and you will recieve more luck.
And then the Hawaiian said "How fo use?"
Translation: How exactly do you use those 1001 cranes you just folded?
And then the Hawaiian said "My ohana, dea make one picture wit dem buggahs"
Translation: My family creates a beautiful master piece with the folded cranes.
And then the Hawaiian said "Wea akamai."
Translation: We are a very intelligent people.

Thus began the artwork of 1001 cranes. Most family traditions include the cranes being formed into the husband's family crest (aka Mon). It is displayed at the wedding and then hung in the house. Unless you happen to marry my brother and realize we can't find our family crest.

And then there are the difficult people like me. You know the ones. We want to be different. So I searched high and low for inspiration. I didn't really think that we would end up hanging a picture on our wall. But I found Alan at I saw that bonzai and knew it was what I wanted. I could see it on a shelf in my library.

Isn't it Awesome?! All the above pictures are of creations by Alan from 1001 Cranes.

Do you see how your short history lesson turned into a novel?

So Alan and I made arrangements which involve me folding the cranes and sending them to Hawaii to be made into a bonzai. I practiced folding my crane at home. Then Alan sent me an email saying that I should be using 2" gold foil. Two inch?!! And then I cried.

Here you see a comparison between the standard 6" crane and the 2" crane.

To add to my sadness my sister-in-law told me that they had to fold like 1,400 to make sure they had 1,001 that would be presentable enough to use. You see, gold foil origami paper is one-sided. You can't see too much white or it can't be used. And if you crease it too much the white shows through as well.

One of my bridesmaids (who is a saint) has been folding for me as well. She is waaay better at this than I am and has already folded like 200. I mailed my niece Kayla in Illinois a packet to fold too. I'm about 5 weeks and hundreds of cranes away from my deadline.

Yes, I've known that I needed to have these done. No, I have not been diligent about folding. Yes, I regret my actions thus far. I've decided to throw some folding parties and see how those go.


Ms. MimiRickets also offered up her services.. and we've never even met in real life! The conversation went something like this:
It started with MimiRickets posting one of her crafts on her blog.
Me: Wow, you are so amazing and patient and I am not and I have can't even fold the cranes I need for my wedding.
MimiRickets: I can fold cranes for you, just send them over to me!
Me: No, no, I couldn't impose on you.
MimiRickets: No seriously, I'll help!
Me: Give me your address. Now.
A week after she got them she already folded 90. Thanks MimiRickets you are a folding machine! Is the internet not amazing?! I have met some incredible people on the great interwebs.

Do you remember when I said I looked forward to this?

I have some vague recollection of that. I think I've already failed this basic test of becoming a wife. B? Will you still marry me?


My closing thought: I wonder if Sembazuru really means Japanese bridal torture?

Did anyone else out there have something tedious to do for your wedding?


  1. I love the cranes! We have them all over the library at work! And I love the bonzai. it's going to look so cool when it's done! :)

  2. Wow~ that's a lot of cranes. I bet it'd look fab when done. Don't forget to post pics!

    Something tedious to do for my wedding...? You'll have to ask my sister-in-law. We were just recalling our respective weddings and I mentioned that I don't understand why people get so stressed, because I was SO not stressed at all at my wedding --at which point she laughed and said that that's because she was the one who got stressed out for me. :)

  3. I made bunting using a stapler to fix the material on (it was going to be up high - noone would notice! AND I'm very slapdash) I think I clenched my teeth with each slam of the stapler cos I ended up with crazy jaw ache stiffness and wondered if I would have to refuse to be kissed when the vicar said "you may kiss the bride"...

  4. Now that is a cool project but Holy Cow woman! My eyes hurt just thinking about all those cranes having to be folded.

  5. Wow. Awesome. But the most awesome part of your wedding will be you and B. And you in your wedding finery will be the most awesome of all. I'm hoping you will post at least a couple of wedding photos when you are Mrs. B.

  6. Seriously? I've heard of this tradition, but I've never seen them that small! Good luck!

    Oh, once I had to make 200 bookmarks for my cousin's wedding...and laminate them one by one...and they didn't even end up using them! Kind of frustrating... so make sure you get good use out of you project :)

  7. I used to be pretty good at folding cranes. I don't have any Asian heritage at all, but I was really into origami for a while. I'd be happy to fold some for you, if that would be helpful. Send me an e-mail if you're still wanting help.

  8. Cool! Please post a pic when you get them all done!

  9. oh my gosh how beautiful your background is amazing we is just some white folks, I love history lessons and crane folding, i used to do alot of origami when I was little, Sign me up I am helping too, I will send you them in the mail, I am a perfectionist, so I promise I wont do you wrong!! I always help with wedding, usually with flowers hair and invites, but this will be super fun and new!! I think I am going to go to now

  10. ps....I learned how to make these bonsia's once, they are super fun, my mom was a florist, so I learned all kinds of weird things.

  11. I honestly hope you take up all the help offered to you by all these wonderful people who have left you comments. Not only will it make the job much easier but you won't have to stress over getting it all done before your wedding with all the other plans you have.

    This is such a beautiful and symbolic tradition I had never heard of and think it is truly amazing. I love what you plan on doing with all of them and can't wait to see the finished product.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  12. Neat Dandy! I think that yes, it is in fact bridal torture, but the finished project is going to be amazing! And well worth the torture. I'd offer to help, but you'd get back a bunch of gold paper in the shape of manatees--my dexterity and patience is nil. Plus, they'd be slobbered on by Dee. And Bug would want to help, so you'd get some manatees with ladybug stickers on them. It wouldn't be pretty. Although a bonzai with ladybugs crawling on it might be pretty.
    Anyway, I think it's great that you are tying in your culture and B's culture. And OH MY GOSH, you're getting married in 5 weeks!!! I'm so so so excited! I hope hope hope you'll post photos-like a thousand of them. It's going to be so beautiful!

  13. Have I ever told you all how much I love your comments? Well I do.

    We are actually getting married in 3 months and 8 days to be exact. But I have to ship it 2 months ahead so he can make it and ship it back.

    And I really didn't post this to coerce you all into helping me. But I'm seriously not above asking for help when I need it... most of the time. And I'm totally into sending thank you gifts!

    Rambling Housewife, I couldn't find your email, but I really did enjoy looking thru your posts :)

    Jana, I so wish you were closer and could help me plan, I've seen what you can do?!

  14. Yikes! 1001, you would have crane cramped hands!! I can't wait to see the finished bonzai, though.

  15. I was thinking about that earlier--that it can't be 5 weeks til the big day, because the guy still has to make the bonzai. Big sigh (of disappointment from me that I have to wait so long for photos and of relief for you that you still have time to plan). :O)

  16. Looks like fun but I'm in wedding limbo at the moment since I'm not sure if your date is really October 25th or not. I would totally offer to help if I wasn't so clueless!! It's going to be gorgeous when it's complete.

  17. What a lovely, lovely idea. Tedious or not. Your wedding will be so perfect.

  18. Wow, that is so neat. Wish I could help but paper airplanes wouldn't work I'm afraid. Someday I'll post about how I got henna tatoo for my wedding and something comical that happened to me!


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