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UAE’s Japanese bookstore raises ¥84,878 for Palestine via origami

The bookstore donated ¥4,238 for every 1000 origami folded, (Supplied)
The bookstore donated ¥4,238 for every 1000 origami folded, (Supplied)
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20 May 2024 05:05:09 GMT9
20 May 2024 05:05:09 GMT9

Manar Elbaz

DUBAI: The UAE’s Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya has raised ¥84,878 (2,000 AED) for Palestinians who are impacted by the current war in Gaza through origami cranes. 

Considered one of the biggest book chains in the world, Kinokuniya is a global Japanese bookseller with headquarters in Tokyo. It has two branches in the UAE, at Abu Dhabi’s Galleria Mall and Dubai Mall, with the latter having more than half a million books. 

The money will be donated to Emirates Red Crescent’s ‘Tarahum for Gaza’ initiative, which was launched in October 2023 to provide relief aid for Palestinians. UAE residents can participate in the campaign by donating or volunteering to prepare relief packages. 

Kinokuniya decided to raise money by asking the book community to fold origami cranes. The bookstore donated ¥4,238 (500 AED) for every 1000 origami folded, thus concluding the campaign with 4,285 folds. 

Steve Jonas, Dubai Mall’s Kinokuniya manager, told Arab News Japan that he was inspired by the children’s book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” to launch the campaign. The book, which is based on a true story, follows a young Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor who folds a thousand paper cranes in an attempt to cure her cancer.

“Similar to the innocent victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Palestinian families find themselves caught in a conflict they did not create. While this issue is extensively covered in the news and social media, I believe our focus should be on demonstrating humanity and providing support to help others navigate any trauma they may be experiencing,” he added. 

Kinokuniya’s ‘Tarahum for Gaza’ campaign received positive feedback from book lovers in the UAE, as many stormed the stores to show their support and solidarity with Palestine.

“We’ve received numerous expressions of gratitude for this campaign, both in person and through social media. Our stores have become gathering places where groups of people spend hours folding and engaging in conversations with others. This initiative has truly fostered a sense of community here in the UAE,” said Jonas. 

Kinokuniya launched its origami initiative with Tuttle Books, a leading publishing house specializing in Asian cultures. In 2023, they launched their first origami campaign to help cancer patients in Lebanon, and they made a donation of ¥84,878 to the Children’s Cancer Centre in Lebanon.

“We were all deeply affected by the tragic explosion in Beirut in 2020 and the subsequent economic fallout,” he said. “The situation was so dire that children with cancer were being denied treatment due to a lack of funds. We felt compelled to bring attention to this issue and encouraged people to fold cranes for them.” 

Both Kinokuniya branches currently have large tables dedicated to Palestinian literature. “We believe it’s crucial to amplify Palestinian voices. (Our efforts) are making these narratives highly accessible.” Jonas told Arab News Japan. 

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