1,000 Prayers


Carolyn Uyeda of San Diego and her 4-year-old grandson, Alex, look over a blue and gold Tanabata Kazari made from 1,000 paper cranes folded by nearly 100 family members of Fugetsudo, the long-time confectionary store in Little Tokyo. (RYOKO OHNISHI/Rafu Shimpo)

This weekend’s Tanabata Festival is a colorful celebration of community spirit and creativity. More than 200 tanabata kazari will be on display until Sunday and 50-foot tall bamboo stalks cut from the Huntington Library will decorate the area.

Among the multicolored ornaments, is one Tanabata Kazari made from 1,000 paper cranes, which carries a special wish.

Kathy Ikeda of Monterey Park was talking to her younger brother, Tanabata Festival committee member Brian Kito, about the creation of a special kazari that would include 1,000 cranes for one of their relatives, Laurie Lam.

“We know the story of Sadako and the 1,000 cranes,” Ikeda explained, referring to the young girl diagnosed with leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. “Laurie was diagnosed with cancer several months ago and we have been following her story on [the patient web blog]Caring Bridge, where she has posted her progress. Laurie is a courageous young woman, with a strong and abiding faith who has been fighting this battle with the support of her husband, three children, family and many family friends.”

Ikeda sent out an e-mail about her plan to relatives while creating cranes with her daughter and sister-in-law. The word went out about the 1,000 cranes and soon thereafter, cranes of all colors and designs began arriving via Fed Ex from relatives in Washington State, Hawaii, Colorado, Chicago, New York and from the Dames philanthropic organization of which Laurie’s mother is a member.
“Some of them could not find origami paper, so they used wrapping paper. Some called me to ask how to fold it so I instructed them over the phone. Some wrote wishes inside of the cranes.”

The very special kazari were made in Bruin colors since UCLA is Laurie’s alma mater and treatment facility. The streamers with multi-colored cranes represents the support of family and friends for Laurie and her family.

It turned out to be 1,080 total. Brian Kito said, “We all love her.”


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