In 2012 I had the privilege of being commissioned to produce a bronze sculpture of Sadako Sasaki, to form the centrepiece of Hedd Wen, a tranquil peace garden in Wales. The garden and sculpture were blessed on the World Day of Peace, on Friday 21st September 2012. But who was Sadako Sasaki?
Sadako was twelve when she became ill from the effects of the radiation from the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. Despite becoming increasingly ill she sought to make one thousand origami paper cranes. This follows the Japanese legend, “fold 1000 paper cranes and your wish will come true”. Many patients, including Sadako, were inspired to fold their own paper cranes. Into each crane, Sadako folded her wish to get well. Paper was expensive so she used any paper she could lay her hands on, including advertisements and medicine labels. Despite her failing health she folded over 1000 paper cranes, helped by family and school friends.
Sadako Sasaki lost her fight for life on the 25th October 1955, at the age of twelve. She was just one of the hundreds of thousands of people who lost their lives as a result of the Hiroshima bombing. Devastated by the death of their friend, her school friends from the Nobori-cho Junior High School decided to raise funds for a memorial sculpture. In May 1958, the Children’s Peace Monument was unveiled as a fitting tribute to Sadako and all the other children who died from the atomic bombing. This nine-foot high bronze sculpture of Sadako can be found in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, close to the spot where the atomic bomb was dropped. Over the years, the story of Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes has travelled far. It is used worldwide in peace education initiatives. Indeed, children from all over the world still send paper cranes to be placed under Sadako’s statue in Hiroshima.
See my blogs ‘Who was Sadako Sasaki?’ and ‘Young people unite for a peace monument in Hiroshima’ for further detail.
This blog and its images draw on the excellent resources of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and its website – http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/index_e2.html