DIY Origami Cranes

The crane is one of the most iconic origami shapes there is. Easily recognizable and found throughout Japan in and around the many shrines, the origami crane, or orizuru, is a representation of the Japanese red-crowned crane, a bird that has special significance in Japan. Cranes are thought to bring good luck and longevity as it is said they can live for 1,000 years. An ancient Japanese legend says that anyone who folds 1,000 origami cranes will be granted one wish by the gods. In Japan, we saw many strings of origami cranes, all folded with such precision and always near a shrine.  The many colors and precise shapes left us in awe. While we would never consider ourselves to be “pros” at any craft, we’ve definitely managed to be quite quick at making these origami cranes. From launch parties and pop-up shop photo backdrops, to in-store installations, we’ve made hundreds of cranes over the past few months. If you’ve ordered from during our fall season, you’ve probably received your very own set of 8 origami papers with instructions on how to make an adorable origami uni (dog). Learn how to make an origami crane on your own! It might take a few tries to get it down, but once you’ve figured out the folds, you’ll quickly become a pro yourself. 

Mastering the series of folds involved with making an origami crane is tricky. We’re not going to lie. Some of us prefer the step-by-step instructions, while one Tea employee could only master it once she watched this video, 1 million times. Pick your preference!


Just one sheet of square origami paper


  1. Start with a square piece of paper, colored side up. Fold the top corner of the paper down to the bottom corner.  Crease and open again. Then fold the paper in half sideways.
  2. Turn the paper over to the white side. Fold the paper in half, crease well and open, and then fold again in the other direction.
  3. Using the creases you have made, Bring the top 3 corners of the model down to the bottom corner. Flatten model.
  4. Fold top triangular flaps into the center and unfold.
  5. Fold top of model downwards, crease well and unfold.
  6. Open the uppermost flap of the model, bringing it upwards and pressing the sides of the model inwards at the same time. Flatten down, creasing well.
  7. Turn model over and repeat Steps 4-6 on the other side.
  8. Fold top flaps into the center,
  9. Repeat on other side, so your model looks like this.
  10. Fold both ‘legs’ of model up, crease very well, then unfold.
  11. Inside reverse fold the “legs” along the creases you just made.
  12. Inside reverse fold one side to make a head, then fold down the wings.
  13. You’re crane is all done!

Need a visual? Here’s a video:

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Melissa Beltran
Melissa Beltran
4 years ago

Thank you for the wonderful ideas on Japanese culture. My son is having his birthday in a couple weeks and we are doing a Japanese theme. We will use everything we learned here! Thank you