The Story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes

The Story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Origami crane birdsWe thought we would dedicate this month’s blog post to a special girl named Sadako Sasaki in memory of the tragic atomic bombing of Hiroshima seventy years ago today, which claimed as many as 140,000 lives. The story of this little girl’s battle with leukaemia, known as Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes, serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of war on the innocent – not just upon society at large, but on a more personal level.

The Story of Sadako Sasaki

Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. The blast threw her out of the window and although she survived, she and her mother were caught in the nuclear fallout. Her grandmother went back to the house to get something and was never seen again.

Years went by and Sadako led a normal childhood up until November 1954, when, aged 11, she was diagnosed with leukemia and told that she only had a year to live. Leukaemia was highly prevalent at that time along with several other cancers, and it became evident that this was largely down to the effects of the bombing nine years before.

In hospital, Sadako’s roommate told her of an old Japanese legend, which says that if you fold 1000 paper cranes, you will be granted one wish from the gods.

Some versions of the story say that Sadako made 644 origami cranes before dying peacefully in her sleep, and her friends made the remaining 356 in her honour. However, an exhibit at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum said she had achieved her goal by August 1955 and continued to fold more cranes right up until her death.

Either way, Sadako Sasaki’s condition sadly continued to deteriorate and she died on October 25, 1955 at the age of 12. She was buried with all 1000 paper cranes.

The Story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes

In Memory of Sadako

Following Sadako’s death, her friends and schoolmates raised funds to build a memorial to her and all the other children who had died as a result of the atomic bomb. Statues of Sadako holding cranes can be found in both Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Seattle Peace Park, the former of which bears the following words:

“This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.”

The story of Sadako Sasaki and the Thousand Paper Cranes has become known internationally as a reminder of the effects of war on the innocent. It is told in many schools on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing and people all over Japan celebrate August 6th as an annual peace day.

Every day children bring origami cranes to Sadako’s statue in memory of her and all the other innocent children who have died as a result of war. The crane has long been a symbol of hope and longevity, but in Sadako’s memory it has also become known as symbol of peace.

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