Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Red-Crowned Crane, Tanchou - Kirigami And A Japanese Story

It is a rare bird, about 2,700 of them in the world. It is a symbol of Japan, though the national bird of Japan is actually the green pheasant. This crane is considered to live 1,000 years, and it symbolizes good luck, longevity, fidelity. It is 150 cm tall. In Japanese, it is called 丹頂鶴 tanchou-dzuru (red + top of the head + crane).

Though it can be seen in Hokkaido, these are some photos taken in Korakuen Garden.














Little red combined with white is a beautiful combination in Japan, where even the flag (国旗 kokki) contains the two colours.




A bowl of food in Hokkaido:




The salmon roe is called イクラ ikura in Japanese. It is written in katakana because it probably comes from the Russian "ikra" - fish egg.  




The other species of crane are called tsuru 鶴 and the most famous origami represents this bird. This is an uchiwa, round fan. The second post on this blog, in June, was related to uchiwa and its famous place - Marugame.




It felt special to see some tanchou in Hokkaido, even from the bus window - such a graceful bird.

It can be cut from paper, kirigami crane - a square paper in the favourite colour, folded in two and cut like so:




When unfolded, Facing Cranes:




In Japan, books are usually packed at the bookshops and read with a cover made of paper, and this pattern can be glued on some book cover:







A famous Japanese story is The Crane Wife. A poor man finds a wounded crane and takes care of it. When healed, he releases the crane and a woman comes at his door. They get married, and the wife offers to weave silk clothes to be sold for money on the condition that he never watches her while she is weaving. Curiosity is sometimes a flaw, and one day he takes a look at his wife while she is working. He is shocked to see at the loom a crane plucking feathers off its body to weave them. On seeing him, the crane flies away and never returns. There are some variations of the story. The crane wife is sometimes called Yukiko - the Snow Child.

The Japanese title of the story is Tsuru no Ongaeshi - the crane who repays for the kindness received. Ongaeshi refers to returning the favour received from somebody.

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