Feb 10, 2019 Attraction Hiroshima City

The Children’s Peace Memorial and the Story of the 1000 Origami Cranes

#Attraction ,#Historical Site ,#History ,#Peace ,#Travel Tip ,#Trivia

In the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park stand numerous memorials to honor the spirits of the dead.

Among the many structures are the “Children’s Peace Memorial”, a piece done in the motif of an origami crane that many travelers come to see every day.

Surrounded by strings of thousands of colorful origami cranes, the rest of the world seems to fall away around you, leaving only the statue in front of you.

Today I’d like to talk a bit about the Children’s Peace Memorial, the circumstances surrounding its construction, and how the origami crane came to be a symbol of peace.

Why Was the Memorial Built, and Why Origami Cranes?

The Children’s Peace Memorial was completed on May 5, 1958 in honor of Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was only 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Ten years later, she died of Leukemia.

Standing atop the 9 meter structure is a young girl in bronze holding up a massive origami crane.

It was meant to represent moving towards a peaceful future.

A few months after Sadako was hospitalized due to her Leukemia, a string of 1000 cranes was delivered to her hospital room.

Sadako committed herself to folding 1000 of these cranes herself, wishing to live with each fold of the paper. An old Japanese legend says that if a person folds 1000 cranes they will live a long life.

There are varying opinions on how many cranes Sadako actually folded before her passing, but Sadako’s will was carried on by her classmates and through their efforts they erected the Children’s Peace Memorial honoring the spirits of all children that died from the atomic bomb.

While the original goal of folding one thousand origami cranes was long life, now it has come to represent peace, a wish for life, mental health support, and many other things.

A Message Engraved in Stone and Bell

Directly underneath the Children’s Peace Memorial is a stone monument with an inscription that reads, “This is our cry, this is our prayer: for building peace in the world”. Look above the monument to see a bell in the shape of a crane with yet another inscription that reads, “Senbazuru”, a string of 1000 origami cranes.
It’s a powerful place that screams for the same atrocities to never happen again.
When rung, the sound of the bell reverberates throughout the surrounding area. Those who ring the bell silently bring their hands together in prayer for the children who have passed away.

Colorful Cranes from All Over the World

People send in strings of 1000 cranes to the Children’s Peace Memorial from all over the world. About ten tons of cranes arrive at the Memorial every year. Some netizens have asked questions like, “There are so many cranes; do you just get rid of them?”, but as it turns out, these cranes are temporarily displayed upon the Memorial itself. After they’re taken down, the Hiroshima City Welfare Services Office collects them, unfolds them, and the unfolded paper is then used in recycled paper goods!

By the way, on August 6th every year some of the unfolded cranes are used to make paper lanters for a “tōrō nagashi,” a Japanese ceremony where paper lanterns are lit and floated down a river in order to help guide the souls of the departed to the spirit world.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a powerful place, at times heavy, at others, hopeful. Should you find yourself visiting, take some time and visit the Children’s Peace Memorial, ring the bell, and listen to its hopeful sound.

Children’s Peace Memorial
Address 1 Nakashima-cho, Nakak-ku(map)
Closest Station 3mins walk from “genbaku dome-mae” tram stop
Open 24/7
Website Website
Entrance Fee Free