December 2006

Peace Cranes

© Aris Dervis 2006



Sadako 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.
After her death, inspired by her courage and strength, her friends published a collection of her letters to raise money to build a monument to Sadako and all the children damaged by the atom bomb. In 1958 a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads, "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world."
Today, people from all over the world fold 1,000 paper cranes and send them to the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima. If you wish to learn how to fold a paper crane, check out Sadako.com/howtofold.html.

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.


Serving Spirits Monthly Spirit © Aris Dervis