Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Children's Peace Monument And A Story Of Sadako Sasaki

We visited Hiroshima Peace Park in 2008. When we reached the Children's Peace Monument, we saw brightly colored paper cranes everywhere and this monument. The photo wasn't good, I know, but on top on the bell-like structure is a statue of Sadako Sasaki holding a crane. I didn't know who she was and the significance of her and the monument at that time.

Who was Sadako Sasaki? She was a Japanese girl who lived in Hiroshima, Japan. She was two when the atomic bomb was dropped about one mile away from her home. She and her family managed to escape, although her grandmother; who ran back to fetch something from their house was never seen again.

Though an atomic bombing survivor, Sadako was a healthy and energetic child who never missed a day of  school due to illness and was also a good runner. However, she fell ill when she was 11, and it got worse. In 1955, she was diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer which affected many children who had been exposed to radiation because of the atomic bomb. Her family was told that she would have less than one year to live, and as she grew more ill, she was admitted to Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. In August, 1000 paper cranes folded by high school students in Nagoya were delivered to the patients in the hospital. Sadako's room too, was brightened by the cranes folded in a myriad of colors.

Believing that folding paper cranes would help her recover, she too started folding them. However, on October 25 1955, after an eight-month struggle with the disease, she passed away; exactly a year since her class  (and team) had won the relay on their school's Field Day. (Oh my... I've started tearing up as I'm typing this)...

Sadako's death triggered a campaign to build a monument to pray for world peace and the peaceful repose of the many children killed by the atomic bomb. The Children's Peace Monument (原爆の子の像), Genbaku no Ko no Zō; was designed by native artists Kazuo Kikuchi and Kiyoshi Ikebe. It was built using money derived from a fund-raising campaign by Japanese school children including Sadako's classmates, with the main statue entitled 'A-bomb Children' being unveiled on the 5th of May, 1958, on Children's Day in Japan.

Thousands of origami cranes from all over the world are offered around the monument on a daily basis, with ancient Japanese tradition holding that one who folds a thousand cranes can have one wish granted.

At the base of the monument is a black marble slab on which is inscribed in Japanese:
これはぼくらの叫びです これは私たちの祈りです 世界に平和をきずくための
Kore wa bokura no sakebi desu. Kore wa watashitachi no inori desu. Sekai ni heiwa o kizuku tame no.
This is our cry. This is our prayer - for building peace in the world.

To know more about Sadako Sasaki, click on this link.

30 comments:

  1. This is a tragedy.We pray for war-affected populations every August 15th, the anniversary of the end of the Pacific War.

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  2. What a sad and touching story. So Sadako suffered the effects only 9 years later. I'm all for world peace!

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  3. I used to fold those paper cranes long ago. It was quite popular some time back : )

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  4. I wrote about this paper crane in my novel Pulut Sakura Serunding Kasih, if you noticed. My next story touched on Hiroshima as well. But have to wait on that ;)

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  5. Great post and really interesting story. Sadako Sasaki, believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured. Still to this day, children from around the world fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue.

    Japan Australia

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  6. @cocomino,
    It was a tragedy. But the worse tragedy is that there are still children out there who died because of war around the world even as we speak. :(

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  7. @foong,
    Sad isn't it. There are scores of other children who suffered because of the effects of war, immediately or years after or may be continually to be affected throughout their lives. :(

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  8. @Kak Lela,
    Oh dear... I have to re-read the book, I guess.

    I'll be waiting eagerly for your new book just as I had for the "Pulut Sakura Serunding Kasih". :)

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  9. @Japan Australia,
    And I hope the effort continues and serve as a reminder of how important peace is.

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  10. It was 65 years anniversary last year.
    Some of the artefacts were brought to London for a special exhibition.
    I posted some pictures last year, if you're interested you can come and and visit the link below:
    http://1ondoncalling.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/hiroshima-nagasaki-广岛・长崎-hiroshima-nagasaki-広島・長崎/

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  11. @London Caller,
    Thanks. Will definitely check out your link. :)

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  12. What a sad story... not good for the emotion me early in the morning! SOB SOb!

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  13. @Alice,
    Aiya... don't cry... come come I hug you. :)

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  14. Thanks for the story have heard about the paper cranes so its related to S. Sasaki. tQ

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  15. I did not know the story. I am thanksful for your blog. My blog friend wrote about the 1000 cranes.
    http://www.lgordonphotography.com/search?updated-max=2011-04-05T10%3A21%3A00-04%3A00&max-results=7
    She attached how to fold a crane.
    http://origami.org.uk/origamicrane
    If you have spare time, please try it.

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  16. @Bananazஇ ,
    Paper cranes legend is ancient one and linked here at the monument with Sadako Sasaki because she hoped to be cured with her wish, by folding 1000 paper cranes. But sad that she was unable to get her wish to come true. :(

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  17. @minor,
    Thanks for the link. ^^

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  18. Studied at Hiroshima Univ for six months... the Peace Park Memorial is really an experience to visit... I remember feeling so sad seeing the exhibits...

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  19. @Lrong,
    I think I would be feeling sadder if I visit the museum. Yet to visit it, because of 1. my young son 2. my own "overly-sensitive" emotion

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  20. Did you try Hiroshima okonomiyaki?
    My host family taught me how to make it in Hiroshima. :)

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  21. @London Caller,
    Errrr.... the few places we went to and upon looking up the ingredients, we decided to have a miss. Avoid all porky edibles at all cost!

    Ha! You know how to make one! When are you cooking for me then? XD

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  22. Thank you for sharing it. This is the kind of story that can be told thousands of times and never gets old. It also popularized the crane legend.

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  23. and about okonomiyaki, when you're here, Lina darling, we'll make you one with chicken or seafood. No porky stuff for you, OK? :-)

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  24. @Anna,
    Seafood okonomiyaki please! I truthfully am not that a fan of chicken... ^^

    We definitely have to put Utsunomiya in our itinerary for that okonomiyaki! :)

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  25. Seafood okonomiyaki in inland Utsunomiya does not sound attracting but I can put any sort of seafood you can come up with!!

    Thanks for sharing a touching story!

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  26. @Yoshi,
    And when people here hear about me planning to eat any form of seafood in Japan, they sure are going to freak out. Seafood in radiation-contaminated Japan? Horror! @.@

    Searching for what type of okonomiyaki is famous over in Utsunomiya, I found the post at TDP making monjayaki & okonomiyaki. The sight of that puke-looking monjayaki!

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  27. Utsunomiya ia a gyoza town. Would you eat home-made gyoza made with beef? or pure vegetarian gyoza?

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  28. @Anna,
    Ideally, vegetarian version. ^^

    All this talk about food in the middle of the night is sure making me hungry esp since I skipped dinner!

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  29. what a sad story, thanks for sharing lina.

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  30. @Ayie,
    And thanks for visiting. :)

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