About the Challenge

In 2011, Students Rebuild partnered with DoSomething.org and Architecture for Humanity to give students worldwide a way to support their Japanese peers affected by the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck Sendai. Students were asked to make paper cranes, mail them in and see their efforts matched by the Bezos Family Foundation ($2 for every crane to go towards rebuilding Japan.)

An initial goal of 100,000 student-made cranes was quickly surpassed, with over 2 million cranes created for the Challenge by teams from around the world. The Bezos Family Foundation’s matching efforts led to a total gift of $400,000, with another $100,000 donated by an anonymous gift. That made for a total of $500,000 for rebuilding Japan!

In January 2012, a sculpture designed by students at the Tohoku University of Art & Design was unveiled in Japan’s Sendai Train Station. The sculpture was created from 100,000 student-made cranes, and highlighted a three-day public event called “Gift by Gift for a Better World,” featuring interactive workshops with several area schools. In the spirit of the challenge, the cranes are a permanent art installation in a youth facility being rebuilt by Architecture for Humanity in Japan. 

In February 2013, Karl Johnson flew to Tohoku to track the progress of reconstruction in the region. Read Karl’s journey and updates here. Celebrated artist Vik Muniz also generously donated his time, vision and creativity to produce original artwork using thousands of student-made cranes. Check out and purchase Vik’s poster here.

Read more on Architecture for Humanity’s efforts in reconstructing Japan for the Students Rebuild Paper Cranes for Japan Challenge on our blog. View frequently asked questions on our FAQs page.