Cranes are common symbols and themes in the folklore of East Asia, including Japan. The Grateful Crane or the Crane Wife is a particularly well-known tale in Japan, see the resources below:
“The Grateful Crane” (Japanese fairy tale)
Tsuru no On-gaeshi (A Repaying Crane)
The Grateful Crane by William E Griffiths
The Grateful Crane: A Tale from Sado Island (Glimpses of Japan)
Cranes are in fact minor but consistent components and icons of many parts of the world (Verhoeven 2002, p. 450)
Cranes “in most places that they occur, in historically known cultures, cranes have been regarded as symbols of longevity, fidelity, filial piety, femininity, wisdom or wiliness, vigilance, changing seasons (linked to their migration) and their associations with the sun, with fertility and renewal and hence happiness and good fortune (Armstrong)
The Celts seem to have been unusual in associating them with negative power and bad luck. They were sacrificed along with horses in the Vedic period, apparently because of their link to the sun and fertility (Armstrong).
The best known crane dance in the West, is “Theseus and his companions” (Plutarch).”
Crane symbolism features strongly among the Ostiaks of Siberia, in ancient Chinese funerals, Okinawan harvest festivals and among the Ainu of Japan, suggesting the diffusion of a ritual complex from Northeast Asia.
See source: Martin Canes, “Dance of the Cranes”, A Quarterly Review of Archaeology
Yuzuru is a one-act opera created by Ikuma Dan in 1951 and adapted from a play by the same name, written by Junji Kinoshita in 1949. It is the story of a poor farmer, Yohyo, who saves the life of a wounded crane. The crane appears in human form and becomes his wife, Tsu. But Yohyo dreams of becoming rich and this leads to tragic events later on.
[ via Vietnam Bridge ]
Historic Japanese opera to be staged in Vietnam
By Ida Torres / January 17, 2013 / Japan Daily Press
As part of the celebration of 40 years of Japanese-Vietnamese ties, the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Japanese Embassy and the Japan Foundation are staging a production of Yuzuru (Twilight Crane), a famous opera adapted from a folk story from March 29-30 at the Hanoi Opera House.
This was announced by Norio Hattori, Japan’s former Ambassador to Vietnam at a press conference last January 15. Vietnamese Minister-Counselor Nguyen Phuong Hong is delighted that such a prestigious production will be brought to Hanoi and praised the efforts of Hattori and all the agencies that worked together. The opera will star two of the most popular Japanese artists. Soprano Ieda Noriko will play Tsu, and Yohyo, the male protagonist will be played by tenor Mochiki Hiroshi. The production will be led by Vietnamese People’s Artist director Le Hung with the music being provided by the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Japanese conductor Honna Tetsuji, a choir from Hanoi Children’s Palace, and dancers from the Youth Theater.
See also The_Crane_Wife