In turbulent times, we need two things: hope and fortune. The Japanese had a way of summoning good fortune into their lives, through a tradition called Senbazuru – if you folded 1,000 origami cranes (the bird, thank goodness, otherwise several rainforests would have to be cut down, which would, ironically, require cranes), a wish of yours would be fulfilled. I’m sure we all had wishes before lockdown began, and I wonder whether those wishes have changed at all during lockdown. For some, it is for a disease-free world. For others, it may just be for a bit of peace and quiet. For me, as I am currently in Season 7 of Game of Thrones, it is for no spoilers to be revealed. Please.
Owen Swanborough, of the infamous Rem T, has initiated his own Senbazuru trek, calling his fellow Removes to his banner as he takes on this challenge. The goal is to reach £1,000 – one pound for every crane made, and the proceedings will go to Age Concern, a charity that has provided vital support for vulnerable citizens, such as the elderly. Owen Swanborough’s grandmother has been assisted by them, so Owen holds the charity close to his heart. I was honoured to interview Owen:
Me: First of all, how are you and your family coping?
Owen: We’re coping fine. It feels slightly different that you can’t go to certain places – going to Wales is a big thing with my family, on the weekends. So that’s something we can’t do really any more. We’re managing to find places for food and all that, so that’s good.
Me: Can you tell us about the work you’re doing, and why you decided to do it?
Owen: I was prompted by an email asking whether I would like to do anything, and I thought this would be a cool thing to do, because I’d never done it before. I’d had the idea, I’d wanted to do it, but I’d never had the chance to do it, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to do it.
Me: Are you an origami fan?
Owen: I’m not an origami fan, no, I just thought the symbolism was cool, and quite relevant.
Me: Where did you get the idea from?
Owen: I don’t know whether you’ve read the books, but I think it’s the Young Samurai [by Chris Bradford], and it’s got the origami scene in it, and I thought wow, that’s cool, that would work!
Me: How is the paper-crane making going?
Owen: It’s going okay for me. It’s pretty fiddly, and a little bit frustrating. They look okay, and I’m sure they’ll get better as time goes on.
Me: What would you say to people to encourage them to pick up this challenge?
Owen: It’s for a good cause, it’s helping people in need. Also, it’s a new skill you can learn, one that can last you a long time.
Me: Do you have any plans for the next step forward?
Owen: On top of the fact that we were going to make £1,000, there is the tradition of putting them altogether on strings, so I was thinking, maybe when we get back to school, we could decorate the school.
A huge thank you to Owen Swanborough for this interview and for the money he and the Removes are raising for Age Concern.
Thanks to Mr Pavey, Mr Petrie and Mr Browning for sharing the photos of their cranes.
After seeing the article on Senbazuru in KES Community Issue 2, governor and Old Edwardian, Ian Metcalfe, contacted us to let us know that the practice is still very much alive in Japan. On a trip to Japan last autumn for the final stages of the Rugby World Cup, Ian was presented with an origami crane by a Japanese family while waiting for England’s semi-final against New Zealand to begin. The crane, which is adorned with the Japanese rising sun on one wing and the flag of St George on the other, now sits on Ian’s desk at home and provides a reminder of a wonderful trip and an extraordinary day as England beat New Zealand 19 v 7!