January 7, 1943
|Died||October 25, 1955
Red Cross Hospital
Cause of death
|Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan|
Sadako Sasaki (佐々木 禎子 Sasaki Sadako?, January 7, 1943 – October 25, 1955) was a Japanese girl who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, near her home next to the Misasa Bridge in Hiroshima, Japan. Sadako is remembered through the story of a thousand origami cranes before her death, and is to this day a symbol of innocent victims of war.
Sadako was at home when the explosion occurred, about 1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi) away from ground zero. She was blown out of the window and her mother ran out to find her, suspecting she may be dead, but she found her two-year-old daughter alive with no apparent injuries. While they were fleeing, Sadako and her mother were caught in the black rain. Sadako grew up like any other girl, becoming an important member of her class relay team.
In November 1954, Sadako developed swellings on her neck and behind her ears. In January 1955, purpura had formed on her legs. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with acute malignant lymph gland leukemia and was given one year to live (her mother referred to it as "an atom bomb disease"). She was hospitalized on February 20, 1955, and given, at the most, a year to live.
She was admitted as a patient to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital for treatment and blood transfusions on February 21, 1955. By the time she was admitted, her white blood cell count was at six times higher compared to the levels of an average child.
In August of 1955, after two days of treatment, she was moved into a room with a roommate, a junior high student who was two years older than her. It was this roommate that told her the Japanese legend that promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish and she taught Sadako how to fold paper cranes. A popular version of the story is that Sadako fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her. This comes from the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. An exhibit which appeared in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum stated that by the end of August 1955, Sadako had achieved her goal and continued to fold more cranes.
Though she had plenty of free time during her days in the hospital to fold the cranes, she lacked paper. She would use medicine wrappings and whatever else she could scrounge up. This included going to other patients' rooms to ask to use the paper from their get-well presents. Chizuko would bring paper from school for Sadako to use.
During her time in the hospital her condition progressively worsened. Around mid-October her left leg became swollen and turned purple. After her family urged her to eat something, Sadako requested tea on rice and remarked "It's tasty". Those were her last words. With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955 at the age of 12.
After her death, Sadako's body was examined by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) for researching the effects of the atomic bomb on the human body. It was later revealed that the ABCC had also conducted tests on Sadako while she was alive for the same reasons.
After her death, Sadako's friends and schoolmates published a collection of letters in order to raise funds to build a memorial to her and all of the children who had died from the effects of the atomic bomb, for example the Japanese girl Yoko Maruwaki[who?]. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads:
"This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world."
There is also a statue of her in the Seattle Peace Park. Sadako has become a leading symbol of the impact of nuclear war. Sadako is also a heroine for many girls in Japan. Her story is told in some Japanese schools on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Dedicated to Sadako, people all over Japan celebrate August 6 as the annual peace day.
- Sasaki Fujiko. "Come back to me again, Sadako".
- Radiation Effects Research Foundation (former Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) "Leukemia risks among atomic-bomb survivors" Accessed 2011-10-30
- Sadako and the Paper Cranes — photos, a lot of various information on The Official Homepage of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
- Sadako and the Atomic Bombing - Kids Peace Station at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
- Senzaburu Orikata - a 1797 book of origami designs to be used in the folding of thousand-crane amulets.
- "Cranes over Hiroshima" - lyrics to a song by Fred Small inspired by Sadako Sasaki
- Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
- Memorial Page at FindaGrave
- song of russian group Spleen - Daughter of samurai, inspired by Sadako Sasaki