A crafty Penticton woman is hoping to spread peace, hope and love one origami crane at a time.
And Carole Aoki has a lot to share – she’s made well over 1,000 cranes in her life.
Aoki began folding the peace cranes when she was just 12 years old. She was inspired by Hiroshima survivor Sadako Sasaki, who had a dream of folding 1,000 cranes.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to teach myself how to make cranes.’ So I did. She was my age, which I think really helped inspire me,” said Aoki.
It’s said that when a person folds 1,000 cranes, their dream comes true.
Sasaki’s dream was to get better after a diagnosis with leukemia.
She had managed to fold 644 cranes before she died, 10 years after the blast.
“I just love making these. I believe in the cranes. Each one I make is special, and I do believe they help heal people,” said Aoki.
And many of her big dreams she’s had have come true with each 1,000 milestone, whether it be a trip to Japan, to Hawaii or for good health.
“I was in my 20s when I hit the 1,000 goal,” she said. “I’m 58 now, so looking back 46 years – I’ve made so many, definitely well over 1,000.”
Aoki can make a crane in under a minute. She’s so good, in fact, that she can make them while watching TV.
Aoki has gifted cranes to the hospital, neighbours, friends, doctors and even strangers she meets throughout her life.
She makes mobiles for babies, wedding gifts and even miniature cranes that can fit into small glass jars.
“It’s my logo,” Aoki said with a smile. “Lots of people have my cranes. I guess I’m kind of known as The Crane Lady!”
And after Penticton’s deadly shooting on April 15, Aoki has worked harder than ever to fold more cranes to share with the Penticton RCMP and the families of the victims lost that day.
And she’s making a special type of crane, which consists of over 20 very close together on a string.
“They take time to make,” she said. “All lined up like this, they symbolize more peace.”
The style, she said, can be found in Hiroshima and Nagaski, both cities Aoki has visited on past trips and where she has taken cranes to leave behind.
Aoki also made a large posted with cranes on it to bring to city hall and also left a gift for Mayor John Vassilaki.
Her next project is to deliver a gift to the museum, too.
And when Aoki is taking a break from cranes, she also makes handmade soaps and small gift boxes, items which she continues to give out to the community.
“I’m very crafty,” she said, adding that making beautiful things has been a great way to relieve stress.