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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Connecting to and Spreading Peace with Sneakers Made from Upcycled Paper Cranes

In upcycling, objects are recycled and given new value rather than being thrown away. It is also called creative reuse, indicating how things are transformed anew with enhanced quality or environmental value.

    In 2022, sneakers made from upcycling thousands of paper cranes brought to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park were born. We spoke to TACHIGAMI Mizuki, spokesperson of Spingle Company, which is the sneaker maker in Fuchu city, Hiroshima that manufactured them.

Sneakers upcycled from the thousands of paper crane brought to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and similar places.

    Thousands of paper cranes  folded with thoughts and prayers of peace are offered to the Children’s Peace Monument in Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima City has stored the cranes it has been gifted from all over the world for a long time, but starting from 2011, it has begun a new initiative to sublimate the feelings put into the paper cranes.

   Through the recycling of the paper cranes, it has decided to widen the circle of people wishing for the abolition of nuclear weapons and eternal world peace, and distribute the paper cranes with a new feeling to the groups and individuals who inherit them.

    Camino, Co., Ltd., which endorsed this goal, upcycled the paper cranes and began the ONGAESHI Project to have them used as a symbol of peace in events for peace and places of education both inside and outside of Japan. As one part of the project, they are manufacturing “origami crane rayon,” textile thread made from the recycled pulp of paper cranes.

   This origami crane rayon caught the attention of Spingle Company. They identified with the efforts to recycle the thousands of paper cranes and make use of them in activities for peace education, and began a collaborative project.

   Spingle Company is a sneaker maker that works with sneakers handmade by craftsmen. It carries on production via the vulcanization method, which requires many processes to be done by hand, in its factory in Fuchu City. Its Spingle Move sneakers naturally look stylish and are comfortable to wear, but another one of its strengths is its ability to be worn continuously for a long time.

   “We are particular about the originality of form: you can tell a shoe is a Spingle Move just from a glance. It’s distinct for its hoisted sole which uses soles manufactured and processed at our in-house factory, and we’re also in pursuit of comfortability. Our ethos, which hasn’t changed from our founding, is making products that are durable and can be worn for a long time. The sneakers made using the vulcanization method are especially long-lasting, as the soles and the body of the shoe adhere firmly and don’t easily separate. The body of each shoe uses high-quality material, primarily leather, and is sewn carefully by hand. While we can’t prevent the sole wearing down or the sewing coming loose as you wear the shoe, we began a mending service in 2013 so that people can use our products for even longer.”

   They also have a full lineup of sustainable sneakers which utilize materials such as used denim; this initiative is apparently their natural attitude of “doing our duty as a manufacturer,” which has continued from their founding.

   While looking for recyclable material in connection to this, they found out about the efforts to reuse paper cranes and the recycled thread, which is how the collaboration came to be.

Collaboration between overlapping sentiments: those which haven’t changed since a company’s founding, and those of the ONGAESHI Project.

“As a Hiroshima company, we hoped it would be the start of sending out hopes for peace. Through the everyday act of putting on sneakers, we want people to realize the importance of peace and direct their thoughts towards it.”

    Spingle Company creates products that use cow and kangaroo leather, canvas fabric, etc., but finishing the shoes from recycled origami crane thread required a great deal of time and effort.

“Origami crane rayon is delicate and, as a material to make shoes with, fragile. After much trial and error, we mixed that thread with cotton to make an original canvas fabric. We made it a wearer-friendly, unbleached color that can be worn ordinarily, but the motif of the shoe tongue label and shoelaces are the thousand paper cranes, so it can also be easily paired with colorfully patterned clothing.”

The process of making recycled paper cranes pulp into textile (compacted paper cranes).

   With the opportunity of the G7 Summit, they unveiled the second stage of the project in April 2023 with the hope of sending a message of peace from Hiroshima. Attention had gathered on Hiroshima due to the summit, which may be why it was picked up by media both in Japan and overseas. It also came to be presented in the US via the overseas PR Japan Brand Program held by the Ministry of Affairs in October. The world reacted with surprise and commendation at the unprecedented upcycling process of transforming paper cranes to shoes.

“In the second stage, we were able to donate a portion of the proceeds to Hiroshima Prefecture. By making products with recycled paper cranes and contributing the profits gained, a cycle of returns was born, and from the maker’s side also it’s an extraordinarily fulfilling project. With this project as the start, we were able to affirm the will within the company to continue activities which contribute to society like this. It was truly a meaningful initiative for us.”


Spingle Company

74-1 Fuchu-cho, Fuchu city, Hiroshima Prefecture

[Related Article]
A Ceremony for the Presentation of Donations from Spingle Company to Hiroshima Prefecture was Held. (Japanese only)

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