While doing my research on Hiroshima, there was a sad yet inspiring story that I came across. The story of Sadako Sasaki.
On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated over Hiroshima killing over 70,000 people instantly, an estimated 140,000 by the end of the year and injuring countless others.
Sadako survived. She was two years old and a mile away when the bomb was dropped. Ten years later, she developed leukemia, as did many other survivors. While undergoing treatment, Sadako began folding origami cranes.
Japanese legend says that a crane lives for a thousand years and is one of three holy beasts. By folding a thousand cranes, the legend promises that you will be granted one wish. Sadako believed that if she folded a thousand cranes, she would be healed and free of the leukemia.
As she continued to fold more and more cranes, they became smaller and smaller. Some were folded using needles and had less than a half-inch wingspan. The number of cranes was no longer important as each was instilled with her hope to live.
On October 25, 1955, Sadako Sasaki passed away at the age of 12.
Sadako’s story has become an inspiration to children and people around the world. Her classmates began a crane folding campaign in remembrance of her life. Soon children across the country and around the world were folding cranes in memory of Sadako with the hope that there would be peace throughout the world.
Her friends and classmates wanted to do more, so they raised money to build a monument in remembrance of Sadako and all the other children who died as a result of the bombing and their hope for peace in the world. “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world.” is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the the Children's Peace Monument.
Today, thousands of cranes are sent from around the world and brought to the Children’s Peace Monument and left in display cases at the base of the monument.
While my trip to Hiroshima was mainly to do research for my hibakusha project , I do have to eat and since I was there on the weekend and I couldn’t meet with anyone, I did take some time to do some sightseeing.
Of course you have to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Peace Memorial Park. The photos, displays, monuments and wealth of information is an eye-opening experience. Textbooks don't even come close to describing the living hell that Hiroshima became after the bombing. The death and destruction is unimaginable, but this scale model helps put it into perspective.
At the very end of the tour, there are video presentations where you can sit and hear first hand accounts of the bombing and the aftermath that followed from people who survived the blast. It is my hope to add more personal accounts from hibakusha living in the US, Japan, Korea and other parts of the world to the museum's archives.
While I was out exploring the city, I ventured upon a cute little café along the bank of the Kyobashigawa River – the Oyster Conclave. Hiroshima is know for it’s oysters, so your darn right I was going to try some. I elected for the oyster lunch set which included oyster soup, oyster rice, oyster salad, pan fried oyster, oyster canape and of course a raw oyster. Yum!
Another thing Hiroshima is known for is okonomiyaki. I don’t know exactly how to describe what this is, (a Japanese tostada?) so when all else fails, take a picture.
While neither one disappointed, the oysters were unbelievably flavorful and delicious and I am told that winter time is the best time for eating oysters. Oishikatta!
Stay tuned for part 3…my trips to Miyajima and Obama.