"There is no hope or joy except in human relations." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Did you see the 10,000 cranes in Concord in 2011? If you didn't, you missed a rare spectacle.

You might be wondering, "How could I have missed it? I must've been sleeping. But I don't remember reading about the cranes in the paper or seeing them on the evening news."

Well, you don't have to be disappointed because you'll have an opportunity to see them this Sunday. And it's something you won't want to miss.

Let me refresh your memory as to what took place in 2011 that will explain the mystery of those august birds.

Exactly three years ago this past Tuesday, Japan was hit by a devastating tsunami that all but decimated Sendai -- one of the country's major northern coastal cities. The news created even more angst for members of the Concord Ambassadors, a local organization that enjoys a sister city relationship with Kitakami, which is located just north of Sendai.

A year earlier, a delegation of Ambassadors spent a day sightseeing around Sendai before moving on to Kitakami to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the founding of the sister cities. Most travelers stayed in private homes and developed close ties with their host families.


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When news of the tsunami was first reported, nothing was mentioned of the extent of damage it caused to surrounding communities, and efforts by the Ambassadors to contact their adopted families in Kitakami was impossible.

It seemed to them like an eternity before they received word that Kitakami suffered no losses and avoided serious damage despite the magnitude of the quake.

Later that same month, the Ambassadors organized a community candlelight vigil and origami workshop in Todos Santos Plaza. Their goal was to fold 1,001 paper cranes symbolizing hope, happiness, peace and prayers for a complete recovery for the residents of Sendai, and to promote interest in Concord's sister city program.

They exceeded their goal of folding paper cranes that night, but additional cranes kept pouring in from all over, and within a couple weeks more than 10,000 cranes of different sizes and shapes as well as colors filled the collection bins.

Those 10,000 origami cranes, each folded with tender loving care and bearing the well wishes of hundreds of volunteer "folders" was displayed in the window of a vacant store in downtown Concord for a month before being placed in storage until a year ago when Sean Olson, an Oakland-based artist, was commissioned to transform them into a "sculpture of color, hope and emotion" which he recently completed.

The unveiling of Sean's artwork will take place in the lobby of Brenden Theatres Concord at 1:30 p.m. this Sunday, March 9.

The gala is open to the public and the event is free. Entertainment will be provided by the Mt. Diablo taiko drummers who will perform prior to the unveiling.

The Consulate General of Japan has been invited to attend this special celebration. The audience will be joined via Skype by the mayor and many friends from Kitakami who plan to be in Concord for the 40th annual gathering hosted by the Concord Ambassadors during the first week in October.

Concord Councilman Dan Helix will chronicle the Sister City relationship over the past 40 years which is most appropriate. Dan was mayor during the inaugural ceremony and a primary architect in drafting the charter between the two cities.

Refreshments will be served at the end of the program and visitors are welcome to stay and mingle with the Ambassadors and other guests.

The management of Brenden Theatres Concord deserves kudos for offering use of their lobby free of charge and allowing the sculpture to remain for public viewing until the delegates from Kitakami conclude their visit in October.

The Ambassadors have a lot of ground to cover before their Kitakami guests arrive and could use the public's help. Highest on their list is finding host families for the 40 delegates who are expected to be here from Oct. 2-5.

Anyone interested in hosting a visitor during that time -- and you don't have to live in Concord -- is asked to call Mary Rae at 925-671-3495. See you on Sunday!

Eizo Kobayashi is a Concord resident and a member of the Concord Senior Citizens Club. Contact him at transcript@bayareanewsgroup.com.