Origami Meanings

I was intrigued into finding out about whether there were meanings behind the origami figures, as they are normally shaped into animal forms and I feel this gives the sculptures more of a life like quality and so I feel they have more of a characteristic or meaning behind them.


Origami – Mindful process

Firstly I discovered an article by the Telegraph which explained the possibiltity of origami becoming a new trend within the mindful and relaxation markets, much like the adult colouring book.

Refer to Research Folder

Annotated scans from the webpage


What did I learn?
  • Mindful Origami Books
  • Rise in popularity of origami as a form of mediation and relaxation  – Simply instructions guide the user, though they still feel that they are being creative even though restricted.
  • The idea that origami requires concentration creates the relaxation element to it by distracting the user away from their real life worries and thoughts.
  • Coco Sato, Mei Lang, Mark Bolitho, Ellie Romer- Lee – All Origami Artists
What will I take forward?

I feel the main concept I want to take forward is this idea that origami is a symbol for peace and relaxation, as I find it interesting how a simple piece of paper and a set of instructions can help de-stress and mentally stabilise someone, as normally you’d think of something more technical to have the ability to change our mood or feelings. Making it seem like folding origami could be seen as a form for mediation, which could bring up the idea of putting thoughts into the origami when folding them, even possibly trying to channel negative thoughts out of you into it, to create an inner peace. I feel this idea could be the starting point for a narrative for a game.


Animal Origami Meaning

Moving on from the previous mindful research, I looked  more into the traditional meanings of the origami pieces, to identify whether there are different meanings for the figures and designs.

When researching I came across this website which broke down some of the origami figures into their specific meanings.

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From the selection of animals chosen they reminded me of the story of the Chinese new year, where the animals have a race and this determines which year they are. This causes me to question whether these meanings came about from the story or the story came about from these meanings.


Story of Sadako Sasaki

Wanting to find more out about the connection between origami figures and peace, I found this document which briefly explained the story of Sadako Sasaki. The document described how Sadako was a young girl living in Hiroshima and had gained radiation poison from the nuclear weapon dropped on the city when she was younger. In an effort to try to cure her Leukaemia that she had developed, she started folding origami cranes, in the hope to fold 1000 in order to be granted a wish, so told in Japanese legend. Though the girl died before she finished, but her school friends completed the 1000 cranes and she was buried with them.

Annotated Scans of the document

Refer to Research Folder

What did I learn?
  • Deeper meaning and narrative behind origami – Deeper connection with peace
  • 1000 paper cranes grants a wish
  • Cranes are religious symbols that represent the transportation of souls to heaven – Connection with afterlife, hope, healing and heaven
  • People pray to the origami piece
  • Eleanor Coerr wrote the story ‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes’ (1977)
  • There is a memorial statue of Sadako in Hiroshima Peace Park.
What I will take forward?

Reflecting on the text I found the representation of the origami cranes to be of inspiration, because I thought it was fascinating that such a basic figure could have so much symbolism and power. Also it gave me vivid imagery of souls being absorbed in pieces of origami which then travel up to heaven.

I found the text was useful in bringing up questions of whether there are stories about other origami animal forms or if cranes are the most iconic and symbolic. I am also intrigued as to whether this is a true story, as the text seemed to read as though it wasn’t. However I feel it would be far more heartbreaking and powerful if the story was real and this is something I wish to discover.

Within the text it states there is a statue in Sadako’s honour and I want to learn more about this statue, whether there are festivals there, do people worship the statue and is there only one.


Points to Research
  • Discover if Sadako Story is true
  • Learn more about the memorial statues
  • Finer details about the story
  • Other origami animal stories and symbolism


Memorial Statue

Article and blog post sources. 

As planned I looked more into the story of Sadako to try to answer the questions above and generally gain more information about the story.

Annotated Scans

Refer to Research Folder




What did I learn?
  • More in depth information about the story – Sadako knew she was dying, story is very famous internationally and a lot of media coverage afterwards – Large spreading of the message.
  • Multiple statues of her both in Japan and America – Peaceful connection between them
  • True Story
  • The origami’s Sadako crafted have been offered as world peace symbols to America



“Those cranes are not just cranes – they are filled with Sadako’s emotions”. I found this quote to be particularly powerful, because it gave me the sense of how connected she was to the cranes and how much she relied on them to take away her suffering and give herself hope. It also is successful in giving me strong imagery of the cranes absorbing her emotions and becoming more life-like, or the cranes actually being her memories, which I thought was creative ways of thinking about the story.

I like the deeper meaning the quote could have, as I believe it could start to suggest that the cranes where slowly taking her soul and that’s why they were filled with her emotions. Because as she was slowly dying the cranes were slowly taking her soul to carry to heaven and so were taking some of her emotions too. Which I believe could make for a unique and emotionally powerful as a game concept.


Overall Plan

  • Try to reflect upon what I have completed so far and then identify where this part of the project is taking me, so I am moving in the correct direction and feel comfortable and confident I can form a finalised starting point from this research to present on Friday.