If ancient legend holds true, Oklahomans have three wishes of good fortune coming their way.
Three senbazuru hang from the ceiling inside the south lobby of the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory like rainbow stalactites, slowly spinning to show every row of perfectly handcrafted, folded paper cranes.
A senbazuru is 1,000 origami cranes strung together.
According to Japanese legend, the folder of the cranes is granted a wish. Some believe you are granted good luck, while others use the cranes as their own personal “get well soon” card.
Candice Goodner saw her hometown on the news from her home in Suitama, Japan, the day after the May 20 tornado. She felt helpless being halfway across the world and seeing all the destruction in Moore.
She said she just wanted to try and cheer people up any way she could.
“Children in Japan received the senbazuru after the tsunami and earthquake, so I just started folding,” she said. “My wish was to encourage the people of Oklahoma after the tornado. I thought this would be a good way of showing the people that Japan cared and a good way to spend my time since I couldn't be there to help.”
Goodner, 33, said it took a few test runs to get the folds down, but soon she was able to knock out cranes by the dozen.
Goodner teaches elementary school in Japan and told her students about the tornado victims in Oklahoma. They immediately started folding cranes right alongside her.
“People started sending them in from everywhere,” she said. “This meant something significant to them, too. They felt like they were helping.”
Goodner got in touch with state Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, who helped Goodner get the cranes to Oklahoma. Two boxes containing more than 3,000 cranes were shipped to him at the state Capitol.
“We just thought it was a great gesture by Candice and her students,” he said. “I helped contact the Botanical Gardens and they were happy to host the cranes here.”
Goodner moved to Japan when she was 20. She said she loves the culture and the kindness people there show toward strangers.
“The Japanese people are so kind, they make it an easy, easy adjustment to live there,” she said. “I'm always thinking of ways to explain why I love Japan so much. It's because of the people and the culture, so I thought, what better way can I do that than by bringing some of the culture to Oklahoma.”
The senbazuru will be on display through the end of September. Meanwhile, Goodner will head back to Japan to resume teaching.
“I felt sorry that I couldn't be here to volunteer my time,” she said. “So I hope they feel the love through this.”