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Cowra–Japan conversations
Lucy Tasker as a student, Cowra High School
Interviewed by Terry Colhoun at Cowra, New South Wales, on 6 August 2004 (AWM S03332)
TERRY COLHOUN: Lucy, how long did it take you to make 1,000 origami cranes?

LUCY TASKER: Well, it took me about a month and a half – I started on 13 June and ended at the beginning of August.
COLHOUN: 1,000, how many a day did you make, and how long did it take to make each one?

TASKER: I can make one in about a minute 30 seconds and I didn’t really have an average, although I tried making 50 a day. I’m not very reliable.
COLHOUN: Had you had much experience in origami before this?

TASKER: I’m very much interested in Japanese culture and I have been doing lots of origami. When I take Japanese students they always bring an origami book and we make lots of origami – it’s very good fun.
COLHOUN: Why did you do it?

TASKER: When I was doing a school assignment there were no cranes at the War Cemetery and I just felt they should be there, because I know what they symbolise. They symbolise peace, and between the Australian and Japanese it’s been, I don’t know (nervous laugh) …
COLHOUN: Do you know the story of the Japanese girl, the victim of the radiation sickness at Hiroshima, who was making 1,000 cranes?

TASKER: Sadako?
COLHOUN: You knew that story, did you?

TASKER: Yes, I read that story when I was in Year 3.
COLHOUN: Did that inspire you in any way?

TASKER: Well, I made 1,000 paper cranes in Year 6 and I did make those because of Sadako.
COLHOUN: What did you do with those?

TASKER: I gave those to my Japanese teacher last year.
COLHOUN: Did I get it that you intended to give the latest bunch of 1,000 cranes to the War Cemetery?

TASKER: That was my original plan.
COLHOUN: When did that change?

TASKER: When I told Mrs Meiklejohn about it and she ...
COLHOUN: Who is Mrs Meiklejohn?

TASKER: She is my history teacher.
COLHOUN: Thank you, press on.

TASKER: She got very interested in it and she went and organised it. I’m very happy that she did now.
COLHOUN: Did you know that there would be a group of young people coming out from Japan this week?

TASKER: I knew there would be but I didn’t know where they were from.
COLHOUN: How did your fellow students in the class respond when they knew you were doing this?
TASKER: They were very excited and wanted to help me but the … with the paper cranes you have to make the whole 1,000 yourself otherwise they don’t really mean anything. There’s a big story behind it.
COLHOUN: Tell me.

TASKER: When you make 1,000 paper cranes, you get good luck and the person you give them to gets a wish, but if you don’t make them all, you don’t get either of them. There’s a big story about blessing from the Japanese and stuff.
COLHOUN: Has anybody ever given you 1,000 cranes?

TASKER: Not yet.
COLHOUN: Not yet, well you never know, do you?

COLHOUN: Then at the Japanese War Cemetery yesterday, in the rain – very cold – you were called up in front of some very important people. There was a group of young students from Nara and you had the opportunity to give them the 1,000 cranes. How did you feel about that?

TASKER: I felt happy that I could contribute to the reconciliation that was held between Australia and Japan – that students should be a part of that – and I felt happy that I was the one that was doing it.
COLHOUN: You spoke in Japanese.

COLHOUN: Do you know much Japanese, or did you learn it for the day?

TASKER: I learnt that piece for the day, but I do speak a little bit of Japanese.
COLHOUN: Were you able to communicate with the young students?

TASKER: Yes, because Japanese people learn English from Year 6, so they do speak a little bit of English.
COLHOUN: How do you think they felt about this presentation?

TASKER: Well, while I was talking to them they were very, very excited. They were happy, very happy.
COLHOUN: Do you think they were surprised that in a country town in Australia, that here was a young woman who would do this for them?

TASKER: They were pretty surprised about that. I know their teacher was, like, “did you make all these yourself?” When I said yes, they were very happy and surprised.
COLHOUN: Do you know what they are going to do with them?

TASKER: They are going to keep them in their school forever, which is what the teacher said.
COLHOUN: Which school is it?

TASKER: Nara High School.
COLHOUN: Do you think this has formed a permanent link between Cowra High School and Nara High School?

TASKER: I hope so.

Printer version

Transcribed by WRITEpeople, November 2004

The transcripts of interviews published on this website have been lightly edited, principally on stylistic grounds. You may download, display, print and reproduce this material in unaltered form only for your personal, non-commercial use or use within your organisation. Tapes of the original interviews are held in the collection of the Australian War Memorial.

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