Unique Twists on Traditional Family Scrapbooks

Individuals of Japanese descent getting married in Hawaii have a tradition of folding 1001 origami cranes. The practice is called Sembazuru and the entire wedding party is supposed to help fold shiny pieces of paper, so the bride and groom can get to the lucky number. My entire family chipped in so that my fingers wouldn’t bleed folding 1001 cranes by myself.

Once the cranes are assembled they are then arranged in the shape of a family crest. The massive design is then mounted, framed and displayed at the wedding reception, and later in the couple’s new home for continued good luck.

If you have never seen one of these stunning masterpieces, then take a look here. The artwork is awe-inspiring and extremely significant. In ancient Japan, a bride-to-be would fold sembazuru to ensure a long and prosperous marriage. Japanese believe that the crane is not only a symbol for luck, but for longevity, as the bird is said to live one thousand years. The crane also mates for life, thus folding sembazuru symbolizes the bride and groom’s intent to stay wed until death do them part.

In the 1960’s, Japanese-Americans in Hawaii added one more crane to the mix because in Japan an odd number is considered to be very lucky. Japanese in Hawaii also started the trend of making sembazuru-themed scrapbook layouts to celebrate their culture in wedding memory books and as a way to show off the incredible art form.

My wedding scrapbook includes a two-page spread that features my family crest made from 1001 origami cranes. However, I now want to create an entire book dedicated to showcasing the sembazuru creations that belong to my cousins, aunts and uncles. My plan is to collect photos of each piece of art and some information relating to it. The information, be it in anecdote form or fun facts, will then be featured in journaling blocks that will embellish the individual pages. It may be a while before I complete the entire book, but when it’s done, I know it will become a family keepsake that can be passed down and updated from generation to generation.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.