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Healing cranes to aid recovery in Japan

Hairdresser Colin Gill is selling the origami cranes he was given by a client 15 years ago when he was ill

In Japanese folklore, sets of 1,000 origami cranes called senbadzuru are said to grant a wish to the owner.

White Rock hairdresser Colin Gill was given his senbadzuru by a client 15 years ago to help him recover from an illness, and in the wake of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, he’s hoping his cranes still have some healing power left.

Gill is selling off his origami cranes this month at Hair Eclipse, 1563 George St., and donating all proceeds to the Red Cross Japan relief fund.

“They are supposed to bring long life or recovery from illness or injury,” said Gill.

“After this disaster in Japan I just thought this would be a great way to help with the relief effort.”

Gill – a hairdresser in White Rock for 20 years – saw a Japanese-Canadian client named Marci regularly for five years while working at Colin’s On Top.

“She was a very interesting lady and we had a good rapport with each other, but I never knew she was doing this,” he said, giving a nod to the birdcage stuffed with paper cranes of all different colours he’s kept for 15 years.

“I got sick and over the next couple months she was folding these paper cranes.

“I didn’t know what she was doing, but that Christmas she brought me this box of 1,000 paper cranes. ‘Here’s your wish,’ she said when she gave them to me.”

And his wish came true.

“I got my wish and felt better, and hopefully now they can help people in Japan.”

Senbadzuru gained international popularity as a result of another major Japanese crisis – the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

The 1977 book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old girl from Hiroshima who developed leukemia from the radiation and attempted to fold 1,000 origami cranes while in hospital so she would be granted her wish to live.

The details of the story vary from source to source, but in the book she completes 644 cranes before tragically succumbing to her illness. Her family and friends completed the rest and the cranes were buried with Sadako.

Gill lost touch with Marci shortly after receiving the cranes when his lease for Colin’s On Top was up.

“I think we just lost touch during the move to a different shop,” he said.

“It would be great to get in contact with her again if she sees this.”

Gill hasn’t set a minimum donation for customers wanting to pick up a crane, “just whatever people want to give.”

And they aren’t limited to Hair Eclipse clientele.

Anyone interested in making a donation can drop by the store or call him at 604-536-3321.