As many people may know, I’m half Japanese. Born to an Okinawan mom and a California dad, it was sometimes hard growing up between two vibrant, racial spheres.
Obviously, both had a significant impact on me. Though I grew up in the states, and as Americanized as me and my siblings inevitably became, my mom made it her mission to keep her children as culturally aware as possible.
I was raised with an American education, but also attended Japanese school after-hours. There, I learned how to read and write basic Japanese, and studied the importance of Japanese traditions. Every day my mom spoke to me in her native tongue. I replied mostly in English (mostly out of laziness), but nonetheless – I grew up loving my culture regardless of what anyone else thought, even attending obon dances in the summer.
Since moving to Missouri, I have to say it’s been a tad difficult to feel “true” to myself. In a place where few people know the depths of Japanese culture and the only real “ramen” within a 100-mile radius is 10-cents at Walmart, I’ve realized that my American and Japanese identities go hand in hand – I can’t possibly have one without the other, though in the past I’ve tried to compromise.
That being said, for this post, and hopefully for the duration of this blog, I’ve decided to get back to my roots in the simplest and most effective way I know how: with origami. I still remember the days sitting in a cramped desk in Japanese school, mindlessly folding sheet after sheet as my classmates and I added to a pile of colorful and quirky creations.
In crude terms, I see origami as an easy way for me to sustain the “Japanese” half of me, even from the Midwest, a thousand miles from home. Perhaps more importantly, the practice offers me a couple minutes of quiet and calm during a semester where I can’t seem to stand still long enough to catch my breath. I hope to see my paper foldings get more and more complex as time goes on, and to offer step-by-step instructions to readers who want to try it for themselves!
And what better way to start than with the classic paper crane?
1) Find a thin, 4 x 4 paper sheet. The more decorative, the better!
2) Fold the sheet diagonally and horizontally on both sides.
3) Turn the paper over to the white side so you can see the folds you made.
4) Using the folds you made, bring the outer corners of your paper to the center, so that you form a smaller square. Do this to both sides.
5) Fold the outer corners of this smaller square into the center, like so. Do this to both sides.
6) Again, fold the outer corners into the center. Do this to both sides.
7) Fold the down-turned triangles of your paper up to the uppermost corner, like so. Do this to both sides.
8) Flatten your shape horizontally. Then, pull the left-most and right-most triangles out.
9) Finally, fold the tip of one of the standing triangles to make the beak of the crane. And voila!