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Victim of 3.11 to people who have never suffered a disaster: Don’t send origami cranes to shelters

16 Comments
By Dale Roll, SoraNews24

Southwestern Japan experienced record rainfall last week and over the weekend, causing river overflows, flash-flooding, landslides, and mudslides. More than 100 people died, and many more are injured, while countless others are still missing.

Fortunately the rains have now stopped, but that doesn’t mean the crisis is over. Millions of people were forced to evacuate, and many who have no homes to return to are forced to stay in crowded shelters with little food and water, and perhaps no electricity.

Thankfully, victims of natural disasters can always count on well-wishers to donate supplies, but there is one gift that victims are not thankful for, according to netizen @NORIhannya.

“To those who are not experiencing the natural disaster due to heavy rainfall: Please stop sending origami cranes. They take up space and are heavy, and they’re hard to throw away because of what they are. They’re not food and they can’t be sold to make money. They’re just there for the maker’s self-satisfaction. Please just donate whatever it costs to make origami cranes. Please. From someone who experienced the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.”

Why Japanese paper cranes, you ask? According to Japanese legend, folding 1,000 paper cranes will allow you to be granted a wish by the elusive and mystical Japanese crane, usually in the form of long life and recovery from illness. As such, strings of 1,000 cranes have also become a symbol of hope in hard times, which is why groups of well-wishers will collaborate on a set and send them to people in need.

▼ Apparently this is how all of those cranes end up being stored.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 9.24.01.png
Photo: @NORIhannyaさん

Surely they’re intended to boost the morale of disaster victims, but in practical terms, receiving 1,000 paper cranes when you’re homeless and living in a shelter with thousands of other people without sufficient food and water is kind of a bummer. Another netizen shared the transcript of an anecdote from another victim of the 3.11 disaster that is rather eye-opening to that fact.

We’d been living in the shelter shoulder-to-shoulder with nothing to eat or drink for 2 days. When we finally received a box of relief supplies, we opened it eagerly, only to find it to be full of paper cranes and nothing else. I will never forget the despair we felt then, and the following eruption of anger.”

It’s hard to imagine such a scene if you haven’t lived it, but it’s easy to understand why 1,000 paper cranes alone would not be very helpful for disaster victims, and might even have the opposite effect of what was intended.

The responses of Japanese netizens, however, varied from indignation to complete agreement:

“What a lame world we live in. I understand that the cranes aren’t useful in areas that are under strain, but I want you to think, even just a little, about the people who kindly made those cranes.”

“No…no matter what you think, isn’t that going a little too far? Those people probably had no idea about this and worked really hard to make them…”

“If you really want to send cranes, just send a single one along with money, food, or water. That way, when people see it, they will smile, and feel your kindness. I think that’s better than sending 1,000 cranes.”

“A lot of people are saying that the people who sent the cranes did it out of compassion, but I think sending something that’ll just get in the way is not compassionate at all.”

“Maybe they’d be happy to receive them once everything settles down…”

Most netizens agreed, however, that probably the best way to help is to send money. Surprisingly, disaster relief centers often end up getting a lot of useless things, in addition to paper cranes, and sometimes even certain foods are not helpful, depending on what resources a center has available to them.

In the end, donating cash to a reputable organization helps the volunteers and those in charge get exactly what is needed for the situation. Another great way to help? Donate blood. You could save lives, and get some exclusive Love! Live goods in exchange. Win-win!

Source: Twitter/@NORIhannya via My Game News Flash

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Paper cranes sprout legs and boogie in this bizarre video

-- The Great Obon Disaster: A fable of cicadas, dancing, and cats

-- Meet Orizuru, the origami paper crane that can really fly 【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

16 Comments
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wow, knew about the story, never knew it was such a problem.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I totally agree with this lady. This said, the government also needs to stop being picky about what goods they receive. After 3/11 I started gathering some clothes and some other items from my closets and storage area. Note, all washed and clean and very usable but was told that they are only accepting newly bought items. Perhaps the government needs to do some research and understand that when clothing a child, it doesn't matter if the clothes are new or old. (Book Off makes good money selling used items) If the cans of food came from my cabinet or directly from a store. (expiration dates still valid). That tragedy happened in winter and they were more concerned about where the items came from. In America drop off points are set up where volunteers (kids and adults) organize the items similar to a department store and people can freely go to the location and get what the need. Most all donated from the homes of people around the states.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

since1981

Note, all washed and clean and very usable but was told that they are only accepting newly bought items.

I commend you for sending only clean and very usable items, but having been in the gymnasiums, unloading and sorting supplies, I'll tell you, most people are less careful. In a time of disaster, safe dry places are at a premium so when people send boxes of mixed goods, old stuff, they are full of good intentions, but actually, it is often more trouble than the space it takes up. The new clothes only rule is meant for the 90% who are less careful than you.

Here's an idea I heard of recently - like BookOff, but for used clothing and household goods. They accept them centrally, sell them to recycle shops, and then donate the cash to the disaster area.  

http://recycling-center.net/english.html

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This problem of huge quantities of inappropriate items arriving at shelters is very real. This morning Hatori’s Morning Show interviewed a city worker in Kurashiki. They had received a great number of mattresses and blankets that were stacked up in huge piles. I didn’t quite catch the reason why they don’t need the mattresses at the moment but the sweltering heat explains why blankets are not a current priority. As she said, they can’t just leave them out in the rain and dirt in the parking lot so they are taking up a large portion of their limited indoor space. Not to mention the personnel and time required to move and stack them. The one saving grace I suppose on those two items is that being all alike, they didn’t require sorting.

They also mentioned the huge amount of money municipalities ended up spending to dispose of unneeded/unused items when things had settled down (I think in Tohoku but it might have been Kumamoto, I was drowsing off after watching WC game).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People have nothing and are being sent paper cranes instead of clothes, shoes, underwear, toiletries, sanitary towels etc. What is wrong with people?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

People obviously mean well by sending paper cranes, but they should listen to what the authorities coordinating the relief say and send goods that are actually needed by the people affected.

Charities generally have a problem with people donating unnecessary goods, and are then faced with the problem of how to dispose of those goods as well as having the responsibility of dealing with whatever disaster they're facing.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

We’d been living in the shelter shoulder-to-shoulder with nothing to eat or drink for 2 days. When we finally received a box of relief supplies, we opened it eagerly, only to find it to be full of paper cranes and nothing else. I will never forget the despair we felt then, and the following eruption of anger.”

This is a typical example of Japanese form over function.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

“What a lame world we live in. I understand that the cranes aren’t useful in areas that are under strain, but I want you to think, even just a little, about the people who kindly made those cranes.”

Why should someone living in a shelter be forced to think about people who sent them something they didn't want and is useless to them? It's a wonder the people making the cranes don't send pictures of themselves too, perhaps standing outside their undamaged houses.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Send money to appropriate agencies, anything else is simply a hinderance or logistical nightmare.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Do research and send money to appropriate places, if you must "send a crane" why not make your amount a numerical pun like they do for catchy phone numbers in Japanese: orizuru could be 1126 (forget the o at the beginning, it's "zero") then ri looks like 11 in katakana, then 2 like katakana pronunciation of "two" then 6 for ru. You could send 1,126 yen if budget is tight or add as many zeroes on the end as you can afford to give.

Of course if that caught on and everyone was sending money like that they might run into different unforeseen problems.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Origami Crane. The western "thoughts and prayers" of Japan. Useless.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

JT has a link to their own list of sites people can donate to posted above. Even ¥1,000 is a help.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well, if the origami cranes were made from actual banknotes would probably go down a treat and the school kids could be given the job of unfolding and collecting them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

“What a lame world we live in. I understand that the cranes aren’t useful in areas that are under strain, but I want you to think, even just a little, about the people who kindly made those cranes.”

"I know you've lost everything and are maybe grieving for a loved one and also homeless, hungry, thirsty, and uncomfortable, but can't you stop for one minute to think about the effort I put into not meeting any of your needs? Why are you so selfish?"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Warm gesture with innocent intent. Now... Now... let's not let yourself start thinking like an Amerikan liberal. Those type would find it offensive, not inconvenient, and deny any other reaction of the recipient. Sending money would also insult by assigning low-income dependent status to said recipient. So... Don't be a liberal sheep. Send prayer, money, donate, save a life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People obviously mean well by sending paper cranes

Unfortunately, people who mean well seldom do good.

Good intentions are no excuse for thoughtless and useless gestures. Ineffective cultural tropes such as 1000 cranes are on the list of such gestures.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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