Sadako Sasaki was two years old when her city, Hiroshima, Japan, was destroyed in 1945 by an atomic bomb at the end of World War II. She and her family survived. They rebuilt their home and built a thriving business. But when she was 12 years old, Sadako fell terribly ill with leukemia, a deadly blood disease that was caused by the radiation from the atomic explosion years earlier.
In the hospital, Sadako saw some brightly colored cranes made from folded paper, a traditional Japanese art called origami. She heard an ancient legend, “Fold a thousand paper cranes and your wish will come true.” Sadako folded hundreds of these cranes in the last months of her life. She silently prayed that she would recover.
Sadly, Sadako did not recover. She died on October 25, 1955, at the age of 12.
However, Sadako's story quickly spread. Her classmates, family, and friends were inspired by her desire for life and her yearning for peace. They told others about her. Soon Sadako Sasaki and her colorful paper cranes became an international symbol for peace.
Today, many millions of children in many nations fold “Sadako cranes” to express their yearning for peace. Here are some Internet links to learn more.
To learn how to make your own paper peace crane, download the directions.
Learn more about Sadako's story.
Visit the city of Hiroshima's website dedicated to Sadako and her amazing story.