Endangered red-crowned cranes wade through frosty waters on a cold morning in Tsurui, Hokkaido, Japan. Here, they’re considered one of Japan’s hundred soundscapes—a nationwide effort meant to combat noise pollution, promote the environment, and create symbols for local people of everyday life in Japan.
This photo and caption were submitted to the 2014 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Winners will be announced July 31. – NationalGeographic.com
These birds are quite interesting from cultural standpoint since it seems that they have long been important to Japanese and symbolised several things at least. Haruho Shirane writes about the crane, among other things, in the rather recent book Japan and the Culture of Four Seasons: Nature, Literature and Arts. The crane seems to have been one of the most frequently featured birds in Japanese poetry after small cuckoo, wild goose and bush warbler. Since a lot of these poems may have been composed during travels, the crane came to stand for the loneliness of a traveller. Shirane mentions crying crane in this context. They also evoked longing for home and family. The meaning seems to have shifted over time and the crane also became an auspicious symbol of longevity.
In TV drama world, probably one of the most famous association with the cranes is the song featured in the Korean drama Sandglass called, Zhuravli. It was originally written by a Dagestani poet Rasul Gazmatov and apparently inspired by the very sad story of Sadako Sasaki.