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How to Fold a Traditional Origami Crane

The traditional paper crane is probably the most famous of all origami models. It’s designed after the Japanese red-crowned crane. In Japanese mythology this crane is known as the “Honourable Lord Crane” and it wings carried souls up to heaven.

The Japanese name for this model is “Orizuru” which simply means “Folded crane.” “Ori” is the same “Ori” that you find in the word origami.

An ancient Japanese legend promises that if anyone folds a thousand paper cranes they will be granted a wish by the gods. In same cases you are granted happiness or good luck.

In Japan the crane is said to live for 1,000 years which is why one must fold 1,000 of them. You have to keep all the cranes to get the wish though. If you fold one and give it away that one doesn’t count.

The origami crane’s popularity is largely due to a children’s book written by author Eleanor Coerr called “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”

The story follows a Japanese girl name Sadako who was 2 years old when the United States bombed Japan at the end of World War II. Due to the fall-out from the bombs Sadako developed leukaemia.

In the hospital she spent her time folding origami cranes hoping to make 1,000 of them.

According to Sadako’s family she managed to fold approximately 1,400 paper cranes. Many of these cranes have been donated to places such as the 9-11 memorial in New York City, Pearl Harbour, the Museum of Tolerance and more places as a symbol of peace.

Folding a crane is actually not too difficult. All you need is a single square sheet of paper. We’ve put together the following instructions to walk you through exactly how to fold one yourself.

If you’ve never tried origami before then we recommend you check out our beginner’s guide first. Once you know the basic folds then this will be much easier.

Are you ready to fold? Then lets get started!

Step 1) Start with the white side of the paper facing up and fold in half diagonally.

Step 2) Fold in half again along the dotted line.

Step 3) Fold that flap back and…

Step 4) Squash fold this flap down.

Step 5) Turn the model over, we’re going to repeat the last few steps on the other side.

Step 6) Fold the flap over to the left along the dotted line.

Step 7) Squash fold this flap down.

Step 8) You now have a completed square or preliminary base. With a few more folds we’ll turn it into a bird base. Fold the side flap to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 9) Crease this fold well and then unfold it.

Step 10) Fold the flap on the other side to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 11) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 12) Fold the top down along the dotted line.

Step 13) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 14) Lift the top flap of paper up along the crease you just made. We’re going to make a petal fold.

Step 15) Continue lifting up and push in the sides along the creases you made in the previous couple of steps.

Step 16) Flatten everything along the creases you already made.

Step 17) The completed petal fold. Turn the model over, we’re going to make a petal fold on the other side too.

Step 18) Fold the side to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 19) Crease this well and then unfold.

Step 20) Fold the other side to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 21) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 22) Fold the top down along the dotted line.

Step 23) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 24) Lift the top flap of paper up along the crease you just made. We’re going to make another petal fold.

Step 25) Continue lifting up and push in the sides along the creases you made in the previous couple of steps.

Step 26) Flatten everything along the creases you already made.

Step 27) The completed petal fold. At this point you also have a completed bird base. Next we’re going to fold the neck and the tail. Fold the top flap on the right to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 28) Fold the top flap on the left to the centre along the dotted line as well.

Step 29) Turn the model over, we’re going to repeat the last to steps on the other side.

Step 30) Fold the top flap on the left to the centre along the dotted line.

Step 31) Fold the top flap on the right to the centre along the dotted line as well.

Step 32) Fold the long thin section of paper on the right up along the dotted line.

Step 33) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 34) Fold the long thin section of paper on the left up just like you did on the other side.

Step 35) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 36) Turn the model over, we’re going to repeat the last couple of steps on the other side.

Step 37) Fold the long thin section of paper on the right up along the dotted line. There’s already a crease here but now you’re going to fold it the other way.

Step 38) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 39) Fold the long thin section of paper on the left up just like you did on the other side. There’s also a crease here already and you’re also going to fold it the other way.

Step 40) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 41) Now we’re going to make an inside reverse fold along the creases you just made on the right side of the model.

Step 42) Lift the paper up inside the model along the creases you already made and flatten everything.

Step 43) Make another inside reverse fold along the creases you already made along the left side of the model.

Step 44) Lift the paper up inside the model along the creases you already made and flatten everything.

Step 45) Now we’re going to fold the head. Fold the long thin section of paper on the left down along the dotted line.

Step 46) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 47) Turn the model over so we can repeat this on the other side.

Step 48) Fold the long thin section of paper on the left side now down along the dotted line. This is folded the opposite way along the crease you already folded on the other side.

Step 49) Crease this well and unfold.

Step 50) Turn the model over again so it’s facing the way it was before.

Step 51) Fold the head by making an inside reverse fold along the creases you made in the previous couple of steps. The head is then folded inside the neck.

Step 52) Fold down the wings on both sides along the dotted line.

The completed origami crane, good job!

How did you do? Tell us in the comments and feel free to share a photo of your paper crane with us. We’d love to see it.