Cranes (tsuru), especially white cranes, are the preeminent symbols of long life and good fortune in Japan. Because they are such auspicious symbols, they are a popular motif for hashioki.
They are popular symbols at both the New Year and at weddings. When they appear in this spread-wing configuration it is easy to see that they how crane hashioki would make an impressive presentation at either celebration.
Cranes are also said to be the animal that is most frequently depicted in Japanese fine and applied arts.
In Japan the phrase tsuru no hito koe, which can be translated as “ one word from the crane,” is used to describe the final word in an argument or something that is spoken with authority.
Cranes are cool weather birds; many species spend the summer months in Siberia and then return to Japan for the winter. This migration pattern may have inspired the belief that cranes commute between earth and heaven.
While there are lots of crane hashioki, I have not yet been able to find a chopstick rest that depicts geese, which are a popular Japanese symbol for autumn and for marital fidelity. When I first spotted black bar with gold decoration, and this white hagoita paddle with it’s pair of silver and gold flying birds, I hoped that they depicted geese. But a little Internet research told me that cranes have long necks, lean bodies, and long legs that are visible in flight, while geese have short necks, thicker bodies, and legs that are not usually visible when they fly. So these hashioki are lovely examples of cranes — perhaps suitable for a wedding gift — and my quest for a geese hashioki continues.
Please see my October 2016 post “Two are sometimes better than one” for two more examples of crane hashioki.