Revisiting the Story of Sadako Sasaki

This past weekend, I met Masahiro Sasaki, the older brother of Sadako Sasaki, when he spoke at the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California. I decided to repost an excerpt from a blog post I wrote in February, 2009. I felt it was appropriate to revisit Sadako's story as a reminder of the horrible events that happened 69 years ago and to remember her life.

The Life of Sadako Sasaki and a Thousand Cranes

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.