Local girls think global: Japanese Ambassador accepts gift of 1,000 cranes

Takoma Park Girl Scouts present cranes to the Japanese ambassadorTakoma Park Girl Scouts present cranes to the Japanese ambassador. Photo by Rachel Horesovsky.


Also see this related article: The story of 1,000 cranes.

On a recent morning, nine Girls Scouts gathered on a sidewalk in Takoma Park, nervously adjusting sashes and hair ties.  One clutched a small present wrapped in tissue paper.  Two held the ends of a pole decorated with long strings of birds brightly colored in watermelon pink, cobalt blue, lime green and gold.

The girls had created exactly one thousand origami cranes from paper squares in everything from fancy foil to old math worksheets.

Girl Scouts carry cranes to the Japanese Embassy

Takoma Park Girl Scouts carry paper cranes to be taken to the Japanese Embassy. Photo by Rachel Horesovsky.

“I have my talking points,” said Miriam Smith confidently.

“Who remembers how to say hello in Japanese?” asked a parent.

“Koh-nee chee wa“ (konnichiwa) came the response.

Troop 4672 had an appointment with the Japanese Ambassador, and they aimed to impress.

The girls, ages 11 to 13, had been inspired to help after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.  They voted to donate half the proceeds of this year’s cookie sales to Japanese relief efforts.

Takoma Park Girl Scouts pose in front of the Japanese Embassy. Photos by Rachel Horesovsky.

Takoma Park Girl Scouts pose in front of the Japanese Embassy. Photos by Rachel Horesovsky.

“We had heard that some Japanese Girl Scouts made a thousand cranes for the families of 9/11 survivors, and we wanted to return the favor,” said 13-year-old Jordan Deewar of Takoma Park.  The practice of folding 1,000 cranes has come to symbolize healing and hope.

Wendy Turman, leader of Troop 4672, doubted the girls could finish their folding before the school year ended, but the girls were determined. They reached out to Brownie troops, classmates and teachers, grandparents and neighbors, all of whom began folding.

The scouts folded on cutting boards during their spring camping trip. They held a dessert potluck, and folded some more.

In just a month, they met their goal.  Pamela Fields, a Takoma mom and Japanese consultant, who works closely with the embassy, arranged for the girls to meet the Japanese ambassador.

The Honorable Ichiro Fujisaki receives cranes on behalf of the Japanese people. Photo by Rachel Horesovsky.

Japanese Ambassador to the U.S., The Honorable Ichiro Fukisaki, holds 1,000 cranes created by Takoma Scout Troop 4672 as a gesture of support for the recovery of tsunami and earthquake victims. Photo by Rachel Horesovsky.

At the Massachusetts Avenue embassy, the girls were escorted to the The Honorable Ichiro Fujisaki’s office.  They presented the paper cranes and two boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

A Japanese television crew interviewed the girls, asking them for a message to the thousands who are still homeless.

“All the world is hoping they’ll soon get back in their homes and their normal lives,” said  Maia Pramuk.

Ambassador Fujisaki invited the girls to share juice boxes and snacks around his giant lacquered conference table.  He showed them photos of the Japanese recovery, still in progress.  Home schooler Jessica Miller said later, “That’s why we wanted to donate – we knew they still need help.”

What came next surprised them.  He handed each girl a small packet of neon-colored string and proceeded to teach the finer points of the string game cat’s cradle (called “ayatori” in Japanese).

“That was my favorite part,” said Eriyann Long. “He seemed like a regular person.”

The troop also received a medallion with the inscription, “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the United States of America.”

Japanese medallion.

Origami crane. Photo by Rachel Horesovsky.Also see this related article: The story of 1,000 cranes.

To see our photo gallery of this event, visit http://voice.smugmug.com/Children/Peace-Cranes-for-Japan. Or watch the slideshow below:



About the Author

Sandy Moore, the Kids' Voice columnist, writes for young readers and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Sandy is also a past contributor to Washington Parent magazine, a Board member of Lumina Studio Theatre, and resident of Silver Spring.

1 Comment on "Local girls think global: Japanese Ambassador accepts gift of 1,000 cranes"

  1. Brandon Lee | October 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

    What is this medallion? What is its significance and value?

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