Origami paper used in making Senbazuru is in most cases of a solid colour. Still, paper with printed designs can also be bought. Standard size of paper used is 7.5 x 7.5 cm (about 3 x 3 inches).
Some people use any kind of paper like for example that of a magazine.
Individual origami cranes are assembled to 25 strings with 40 cranes on each string. Whole sets of 1000 sheets of paper for making your Senbuzuru are available
Few extra sheets are usually added in case you make a mistake. Strings and beads that prevent the cranes from slipping are also part of sets.
Cranes are big birds with long legs and long necks. Cranes belong to the order Gruiformes, and family Gruidae. They are known for their beauty and spectacular mating dances. They became part of mythology in many cultures.
As to Japanese mythology, cranes („tancho“) belong to the mystical or holy animals (other two are dragon and tortoise). For the Japanese crane is "the bird of happiness" or "Honourable Lord Crane".
Seeing two cranes at one time is known to be good luck.
It is believed that cranes live for thousand years.
Japanese legends about this belief.
A great warrior Yorimoto who lived in the 12th century. When he died his soul was transformed into a crane and flew away.
Yorimoto used to attach labels to the legs of cranes. This labels contained a short message asking all those who capture cranes to write the name of their place and then re-release the birds. Many centuries after Yorimoto's death there were reports by people claiming that they saw those cranes.
WHY DO PEOPLE MAKE SENBAZURU ?
There is a legend which says that folding a thousand origami cranes will make a wish, like for example long life or recovery from illness or injury, come true.
Senbazuru is traditionally given as a wedding present. It is a wish for a thousand years of happiness and prosperity for the couple.
Many give Senbazuru to a newly born baby too.