Tokyo-based artist Naoki Onogawa hand-folds thousands of origami cranes with wingspans smaller than half an inch. He then attaches them to little artificial Bonsais, giving the impression of magical bird-covered trees. Their inspiration, though, was anything but magical.
in 2011, Onogawa visited the sites of the Great East Japan Earthquake. While walking around the city of Rikuzen Takata, he came across thousands of tiny paper cranes left at the site of a school destroyed by the event. The paper cranes had been left by visitors as a kind of memorial, and the sight truly touched him.
“I found myself in terror of how powerless we humans are in the face of nature’s wonder; yet at the same time, I felt empowered by the power of life, vitality, that shined so brightly in the aftermath of its wrath. It was like witnessing the result of a desolate ritual where people channeled their unsettled feelings into these cranes. And here they exist, spirited with prayers that they would go back and forward to and from a world beyond here. I struggle to find the words to describe it, but I think that maybe the cranes that I fold now come from that place of solemn prayer.”– Naoki Onogawa
You can see all of Naoki Onogawa’s beautiful work on Instagram.