SPIRIT OF THE MONTH
© Aris Dervis 2006
Sasaki was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima
on August 5, 1945. She lived one mile from Ground Zero, and during her
early childhood she was a healthy and athletic girl. At the age of 11,
while training for a race, she began to feel unwell. She was diagnosed
with leukemia, "the atom bomb disease." A friend reminded her of the Japanese
legend in which it is said that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, the Spirits
will grant your wish. While hospitalized, Sadako began to fold the cranes
in hopes of a recovery, not only for her, but also for all the victims
of the bombing. She used whatever paper she could find, including medicine
labels, to fold the cranes. She spent 14 months in the hospital and died
on October 25, 1955 at the age of 12 after folding more than 600 cranes.
In early autumn we were in Kyoto attending a Shinto ceremony. Upon leaving the shrine we were approached by a Japanese woman in full kimono. Communicating in our usual "I'll speak English, you'll speak Japanese, but we'll understand everything" mode, she gave us her business card and said she was a local artist. Tokiko Minami then proceeded to take a piece of origami paper and fold a paper crane right before our eyes. She gave it to us and we received it with gratitude and humility. Knowing how the Japanese people appreciate gifts, I was at a loss as to how to reciprocate. Fortunately, I usually wear about five bracelets. None of them were easy to part with, but I gave Tokiko the one I thought she'd like most and she was touched. I like to think that a part of me is still roaming the beautiful city of Kyoto, while the paper crane from Japan perches on my desk in New York.
We dedicate this image to the Waters family- Virginia, Adam, Hallie and Danielle- to wish them a very peaceful and hopeful 2007.
Paper Cranes is available as print, T-shirt, greeting card and candle.