Posted on 30 June 2020
One thousand origami paper cranes adorn a sculpture of Sadako Sasaki (1943 – 1955) in Washington State’s Peace Park.
Sasaki was a Japanese girl who became a victim of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima when she was two years old. Though severely irradiated, she survived for another ten years, becoming one of the most widely known Hibakusha – a Japanese term meaning ‘bomb-affected person’.
She is remembered through the story of the one thousand origami cranes she attempted to fold before her death and, to this day, Sasaki remains a symbol of the innocent victims of nuclear warfare.
The Seattle Peace Park was created from an award by the Hiroshima Peace in 1998 and the One Thousand Cranes sculpture was made by artist Daryl Smith.
One Thousand Cranes
An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods. Some stories believe you are granted happiness and eternal good luck.
The one thousand origami cranes legend were popularized through the story of Sadako Sasaki and have subsequently become a worldwide symbol of peace.
Sasaki folded only 644 before she became too weak to fold anymore, and died in October 1955. To honor her memory, her classmates agreed to fold the remaining 356 cranes for her.
Children’s Peace Monument
There is also a statue of Sadako holding a crane on top of the Children’s Peace Monument, which is located in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
The monument was built using money derived from a fund-raising campaign by Japanese school children, including Sasaki’s classmates, with the main statue entitled Atomic Bomb Children.
Every year on Obon day (which honors the spirits of one’s ancestors), people leave cranes at the statue in memory of the departed spirits of their ancestors.
Image from www.upaya.org and www.flickr.com