Minamoto Kitchoan, the Midtown Japanese wagashi (confectionery) shop with over 150 locations worldwide, is currently sporting a Christmas tree made up of 3,000 origami cranes, or orizuru.
According to store management, “The orizurus symbolize peace. They were made by kindergarten and elementary students in Japan and sent to New York as a tribute to the WTC Visitor Center.” This special Christmas tree was unveiled earlier this month at Minamoto Kitchoan’s Fifth Avenue store in the heart of Manhattan.
“We’ve decided to create an orizuru Christmas Tree in remembrance of tragic events of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001,” management explains. “Each orizuru comes with heartfelt hopes for peace.”
This sweet gesture is complemented by Minamoto Kitchoan’s own mission, which management says is to expand their business to every country in the world so that all can further experience and understand the beauty of Japanese culture through traditional Japanese wagashi, whether it’s Fukuwatshi Senbei (Japanese style vanilla cream filled cookie), the savory Benihana Ringo (apple cinnamon flavored bean jelly), or the delectable Kurizutsumi (red Bean paste and large piece of chestnut wrapped and baked in pie crust, topped with black sesame).
The art of origami, which translates to “folding paper,” has a rich tradition of its own in Japan, existing since the 17th century. It is said that anyone who folds a thousand cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, which makes them popular gifts for special friends and family. A renowned story of this in the modern era is Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old victim of the effects of the atomic bomb who has since become a symbol for world peace.
If you’re planning a visit to Rockefeller Center to see that other well-known tree, be sure to drop by Minamoto Kitchoan down the street to help support a fledgling New York Christmas tradition.
The orizuru tree is on display 608 Fifth Avenue at West 49th Street through Dec 25. Vist Minamoto Kitchoan online at www.kitchoan.com.