One of the benefits of living in an active seniors’ community is the opportunity to meet and socialize with fellow residents who each have their own unique story, experiences and knowledge to share.
Mary Jane, who moved into Tapestry at Arbutus Walk in November 2022, brought the art of origami folding with her and is now teaching workshops for her fellow residents. Origami (from ori, “to fold,” and gami, “paper”), is an ancient art form. Those who design and publish origami diagrams are considered artists and those who follow the designs are folders.
Of Japanese descent, Mary Jane learned how to fold the iconic origami crane design “on my mother’s lap,” she says.
This isn’t Mary Jane’s first time teaching origami. At the age of 60, when she was planning to retire from her position as a medical laboratory technologist in the biochemistry department at Vancouver General Hospital, she began to look for volunteer opportunities. That led her to the origami workshops offered at the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.
In 2005, the children’s festival’s goal was to fold 1,000 cranes in remembrance of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan during the Second World War. The symbolism of 1,000 cranes comes from the story of Sadako, a girl who was exposed to the A-bomb as a small child and later developed leukemia and died at age 12.
Before she died, Sadako’s goal was to fold 1,000 origami cranes so that, according to Japanese legend, her wish to get better would come true. Because of Sadako’s story, the origami crane has now become the symbol of the international Children’s Peace Movement and every August, people around the world fold and send 1,000 cranes to the Children’s Peace Monument located in the centre of Hiroshima Peace Park.
Mary Jane first started with the children’s festival as a volunteer and in two years she became the activity coordinator, training 80 teenagers and Early Childhood Education students to help with the origami activity. Mary Jane says that over her 12 seasons teaching children who may not have seen origami before, she enjoyed watching the awakening of their appreciation of this art form.
While Mary Jane grew up in Vancouver, she also has a direct connection to the war. She was born in a Japanese internment camp in Greenwood, B.C., and moved back to Vancouver with her family in 1953.
Tapestry Encourages Residents To Share Passions and Talents
Mary Jane’s work as an origami folder was first noticed at Tapestry when she placed a few items she had made into one of the flower arrangements on display. “I would make something like a butterfly or a lizard and add them to the flowers. Then at Christmas I made some ornaments for the tree in the lobby, and people got so excited and asked if I could teach them,” Mary Jane says.
She started teaching origami workshops in January 2023 but could only teach eight people at a time. Due to demand, she had to add another workshop and the popularity of the origami classes continues to grow. “As time progresses, I’m hoping we can make a little club out of it,” Mary Jane says.
When asked about the appeal of origami, Mary Jane says, “It’s creating something beautiful. It’s the same if you are a knitter or a quilter or painter – any art form is very rewarding in itself. You are creating something of beauty and you can bring joy with it.”
For Mary Jane, it’s also about being productive. “After I retired I took on about five volunteer jobs, one after the other. I’m glad to be teaching origami again – it’s fulfilling,” she says.
Mary Jane’s favourite origami design? “The butterfly,” she says. “It’s easy and it’s beautiful. But the crane (one of the harder designs to fold) has more significance for me. My mother Tsurune, whose name is translated as ‘child of a crane’, taught me this model, as well as other life lessons,” she adds.
At Tapestry, there are multiple activities coordinated every day by our Wellness team with opportunities to learn and to share your talents. These origami workshops cover several of Tapestry’s 7 Dimensions of Wellness including social, intellectual and occupational, which includes philanthropic activities.
Spring has sprung, and there is no better time to consider a move to Tapestry. We are offering a Spring moving incentive valued at up to $5,000 CAD when signing a lease prior to May 31, 2023, and our Sales & Move-in Advisor is ready to assist you with downsizing, floorplans and coordination of your move.
Please contact us to learn more about engaged and vibrant seniors’ living at one of our exceptional Vancouver communities. We would be pleased to host you for lunch and a tour.