Inspiring peace with paper cranes


CHAMPAIGN — An area man says he was frustrated and tired of seeing and hearing about destruction, so he’s encouraging beauty instead. A gallery downtown is filled with thousands of paper cranes.

They were all folded by Daniel Ito, who has a mission to inspire peace. He got the idea from a story he heard years ago.

In Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, the main character lived in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb hit. According to Japanese legend, if she folded a thousand paper cranes within a calendar year, she could get one wish.

By those calculations, Ito has earned about five wishes. He started folding around last Christmas. He’s made about 5,000 since then.

Ito says he didn’t agree with how war seems to be emphasized more than peace in modern society, so he wants to help balance that out. He purposely didn’t use tape, staples or string to hold them together.

“Peace comes from us choosing to come together and build peace versus being forced or bound to do so,” said Ito. “So I can reuse these cranes. None of them are glued together.”

By the time he finished folding, Ito could do about 40 an hour. He says he ultimately wants to put them in a design to look like a mushroom cloud, juxtaposing that destructive image with the peaceful cranes. Ito also plans to plant new trees to make up for what he’s used.

If you want to check the cranes out for yourself, they’re in the building at 322 N. Neil, near Soma and Ko Fusion. You can see them from outside or go in and look around.

Ito encourages people to touch the cranes or play with them to create something new.

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