Today is the 65th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. I’ve chosen to re-post this photo from when we visited Hiroshima last year. As a teenager, I had heard the story of Sadako and I was particularly moved to see some of her original cranes at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.
Sadako Sasaki, (January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955) was a Japanese girl who lived near Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Sadako was only two years old on August 6, 1945 when she became a victim of the atomic bomb.
At the time of the explosion Sadako was at home, about 1 mile from ground zero. By November 1954, chicken pox had developed on her neck and behind her ears. Then in January 1955, purple spots had started to form on her legs. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with leukemia, which her mother referred to as “an atom bomb disease.” She was hospitalized on February 21, 1955 and given, at the most, a year to live.
On August 3, 1955, Chizuko Hamamoto – Sadako’s best friend – came to the hospital to visit and cut a golden piece of paper into a square and folded it into a paper crane. At first Sadako didn’t understand why Chizuko was doing this but then Chizuko retold the story about the paper cranes. Inspired by the crane, she started folding them herself, spurred on by the Japanese saying that one who folded 1,000 cranes was granted a wish. A popular version of the story is that she fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her. This comes from the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. An exhibit which appeared in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum stated that by the end of August, 1955, Sadako had achieved her goal and continued to fold more cranes.
Though she had plenty of free time during her days in the hospital to fold the cranes, she lacked paper. She would use medicine wrappings and whatever else she could scrounge up. This included going to other patients’ rooms to ask to use the paper from their get-well presents. Chizuko would bring paper from school for Sadako to use.
During her time in hospital her condition progressively worsened. Around mid-October her left leg became swollen and turned purple. After her family urged her to eat something, Sadako requested tea on rice and remarked “It’s good.” Those were her last words. With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955..
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mk II
Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM
Exposure: 1/80 sec
Focal Length: 100 mm
ISO Speed: 1600