Many people have probably read the book or heard the story of Sadako and the 1000 Paper Cranes. It’s about a girl from Hiroshima who gets sick as a result of the bombing in her hometown. She decides to make a thousand origami cranes because legend says that it will bring her luck and good health.
Whether you know the story or not, you might have heard that cranes are considered very special in Japanese culture. And so I felt very lucky to get to visit the Tancho Japanese Crane Reserve in Kushiro. They don’t have a thousand cranes — they have less than 20. Cranes are endangered and they are working to protect them and study them. Baby cranes that are born at the sanctuary are often released into the wild.
With the help of our awesome translator, Mr. Hatagami San, we learned all about cranes. The ones we saw at the reserve were Red Crowned Cranes, and their red spots are not feathers — they are sort of bald spots like the red crest thing on a chicken. They are faithful to their mates and raise their young together. We got to watch several sets of parents interacting with their babies, and we learned about what crane eggs look like too. These majestic birds were once very common in Japan, and now they are slowly coming back but still endangered.
Anyway, the best way to appreciate cranes is to see them, so here they are. We also saw a Grey Heron (a relative of the Great Blue Heron) while we were there, so see if you can spot the pictures of him in these photos. After, make sure to watch the video to listen to the crane calls.