3,845 notebooks made from recycled paper cranes are sent to children in 13 nations

(by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer)

There is a growing effort to make notebooks for students from recycled paper that comes from the paper cranes offered to the Children’s Peace Monument in Naka Ward, Hiroshima, from visitors in and out of Japan, and send these notebooks to children around the world. Since the project was launched in January of last year by the peace group called “PEACE MINDS HIROSHIMA,” chaired by Tomiko Kawano, a total of 3,845 notebooks have been sent to children in 13 nations, with the support of around 80 groups and companies.

The Orizuru (Paper Crane) Notebook is a B5-sized notebook with 54 pages. Inside the front cover and in the notebook, there is text that includes the wish of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who died of A-bomb-induced leukemia and became the model for the Children’s Peace Monument, basic knowledge about the damage caused by the atomic bombing, and instructions for folding a paper crane. This text is written in both English and Japanese.

Ms. Kawano was once a classmate of Sadako. The project has also formed a partnership with Mayors for Peace, for which Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui serves as president. The notebooks have been distributed to students in elementary schools, junior high schools, and high schools in the United States and the United Kingdom — two nuclear weapon states — as well as Cuba and other nations.

Chie Helinski, 58, a teacher from Stuyvesant High School in New York, has used these notebooks in her class for peace education. Phoenix Zhang, 17, one of Ms. Helinski’s students commented, “I think the overall look and design of the notebook is adorable! It’s so cute that I didn’t want to use it at first! I fell in love with it even more when I realized that the cover was made from paper cranes that were offered in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I learned a lot from the various texts inside the notebook. I’ve learned how important it is to become a bridge between the U.S. and Japan. This also includes becoming an advocate of the peace between the U.S. and Japan, as well as peace in the world, which is why I thought it would be perfect to use this notebook.” Sara Stebbins, 16, another student, commented, “I think the cover made of recycled paper cranes is very beautiful, and a very powerful symbol of hope and rebirth. It inspired me to think about world peace and putting an end to nuclear proliferation. I plan on using it as a diary when I do volunteer work abroad this summer.”

PEACE MINDS HIROSHIMA was established by members of the Association of Small Business Enterprises in Hiroshima Prefecture, and, to start, produced 11,000 notebooks. The group will now seek more support from others so it can print more notebooks. Tsuyoshi Sakurai, 56, a member of the group who lives in Asaminami Ward, said, “I hope the children who receive our notebook will be inspired to take action to help create a peaceful world.”

(Originally published on June 3, 2019)