Hiroshima Insight

Paper cranes

Made famous by a girl named Sadako

Legend has it that if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. As a result of the fate of a girl named Sadako Sasaki, the inspiration for the Children’s Peace Monument which now stands in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the paper crane has also become a symbol of peace. Sadako died of leukemia at the age of 12, ten years after the bombing. The illness was induced by the A-bomb’s radiation.

While hospitalized at Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital, Sadako received a gift of paper cranes from a high school in Nagoya. It was this that prompted her to start folding paper cranes, hoping to regain her health.

After she died, her classmates began a campaign to erect a monument, wanting to “comfort the souls of all the children who died in the atomic bombing.” This campaign gained widespread support and the monument was unveiled in 1958.

The story of Sadako and her paper cranes has been conveyed to the world through books and movies. Ariyuki Fukushima, 37, a curator at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, said, “Paper cranes are now endowed with a variety of meanings, such as the earnest hope to live or the resistance to things that are unjust.”