Paper crane garlands made by Momoho Yamada at the Tokyo 1964 Paralympic Games

Momoho Yamada made paper crane garlands to give to the athletes at the Tokyo 1964 Paralympic Games as a symbol of 'good luck'.

Spectators brought garlands of paper cranes to wish the athletes good luck

©Sally Haynes

Origami paper crane garlands

©Ian Brittain

Extract from The Mainichi, Japan's National Daily,  

Momoho Yamada was born with cerebral palsy, he spent his adult life building ties between people with disabilities and the non-disabled. Kunisuke, his brother, believes that the 1964 Tokyo Paralympics changed his younger brother's life.

Momoho was unable to move his body as he wished, he started making paper cranes to exercise his hands four years before the Tokyo Games. He used his mouth to hold the origami paper on a table and folded cranes with his disabled hands. Kunisuke recalls,

He may have used his feet, too.

Learning that the Paralympics would be held in Tokyo in the summer of 1964, Momoho thought of donating his paper cranes to the event. After his mother wrote a letter to the event organiser about her son and his cranes, Momoho was invited to the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games on November 8th. Until then, Momoho had only gone out in his neighbourhood. He later recalled the moment he learned that he had been invited, saying,

It was a joy that could lift me up to heaven.

Read Momoho's full story here