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Sadako Sasaki (1943 - 25th October 1955)

(8th July 2005) Ok. the words written below are one view of Sadako's life. I've been doing some looking around the internet and I'll update this page soon. Before that have a look at these pages.

Sadako Sasaki was born in Hiroshima, Japan in 1943. As she grew up, she was a happy and active child. When she was 10 however, she collapsed while running in a race. She was taken to hospital and found to have leukaemia.

In hospital she started to fold origami cranes from the paper wrappers of her medicine. The crane is a symbol of great fortune in China and Japan. To be blessed by one thousand cranes is fortunate beyond belief. Sadako prayed that if she could fold one thousand cranes she would get better and be able to leave the hospital and play with her friends again.

Slowly, Sadako saw the other people in her ward dying. No-one ever got better. No one ever left except to die. Sadako knew that her prayer would not be answered. Sometimes not even the gods can undo the folly of mortals. So she changed her prayer.

Sadako prayed that if she could fold one thousand cranes, people would live in peace. That there would be no more Hiroshima's, no more Nagasaki's, no more wars.

Sadako died after folding around 1500 cranes. Her friends continued to fold cranes. And Sadako's story spread. In 1958 a statue of Sadako Sasaki was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park. Every year, thousands of people send cranes to be placed upon her statue on 17th November, world peace day.


"Sometimes not even the gods can undo the folly of mortals." I'm not sure about the word "gods" here - I don't know Sadako's religion. However the Japanese words for paper and god are both pronounced 'kami' although they spelt differently. (An interesting coincidence with spell and spell in English?). Are all cranes baby gods?

I am fascinated by religion, but I'm not sure that words can be put around spirit (Words are neither deficient nor complete - Heart Sutra). I believe in religious tolerance; a tolerance that tries not to tolerate intolerance. (Tolerating intolerance goes too close to binary logic to be helpful). The religions that interest me most are the early Christian churches in the Mediterreanean and Europe, Nonconformist Christianity, Buddhism (especially Soto Zen with its Indian, Chinese and Japanese roots). Peace, perhaps, transcends all religion.

Finally: A big thank you to Carol Hall, University of South Carolina, from pointing out some errors in the previous version of this page.

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Created 12/10/99
Last modified 8/7/05