In the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima City, you can find a statue of a girl holding a crane in her arms widely stretched to the sky. This is the Children's Peace Monument.
Sadako Sasaki is the model for this statue. She was exposed to radiation at the age of two, 1.6 km away from the hypocenter. Sadako grew up to be a lively girl and entered Nobori-cho Primary School in Hiroshima City's Naka-ward. Sadako and I were in the same class from second grade and we were very close friends.
In the sixth grade, the two of us were selected as sprinters for the class relay team for the Sports Festival in the spring, but the Bamboo class unfortunately came in last place out of the entire sixth grade. Our homeroom teacher, Nomura, taught us the significance of solidarity, which gave us motivation, and we practiced relay racing every day after school. Thanks to our hard work, the Bamboo class claimed victory at the Sports Festival in the fall.
In January of 1955, a sixth grade Sadako was suddenly admitted to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital. It was just before graduation and our class formed a group called a Meeting of Unity with an aim to visit her at the hospital, even after we graduated. We continued to visit her after entering junior high school.
Having believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured, she continued to fold the cranes. However, her short life ended with leukemia on October 25, 1955. She was only 12 years old.
I felt very sorry for her, but at the same time, being an A-bomb survivor myself, a sense of fear was evoked, and I started to think, "What if it happened to me?"
After her death, the members of a Meeting of Unity wanted to do something for her. At the Conference of the National Junior High Schools Principals' Association held in Hiroshima in November, we distributed 2,000 leaflets asking for fund raising to build a statue of her. Triggered by this action, "Students and Pupils Committee Aiming at building a Peaceful World" was organized, comprised of the student councils of each school in the city. We received around 5.4 million yen at that time from all over the nation and the Children's Peace Monument was constructed on May 5, 1958.
All of the Bamboo classmates spent much of our junior high school days on the erection of the statue.
Both Sadako and I were exposed to the radiation, but she could not survive. Fortunately, I am still alive. That is why in 1995, 50 years after the bombing, I shared my family's experience of radiation exposure as well as the background of Sadako's monument for the first time. Currently, I am telling what happened in Hiroshima to students who come to Hiroshima on school excursions, along with the children of Hiroshima, as a 'storyteller.' Having a new mission entrusted to the life given, I would like to share every single story with passion.
I decided to publish a book when I passed 70 years old, thinking that with the passing of time, the time will come when I can no longer share my story. This book tells of my memories with Sadako and the background to the construction of the statue. This book also includes pictures with Sadako, as well as compositions and poems written by her classmates, which were published in Sadako's memoir "Kokeshi".
Self-published on May 5, 2013.
B5 size, 100 pages. 1,000 copies available, free of charge.
|1942||Born in Horikawa-cho, Naka-ward, Hiroshima City|
|1945||Exposed to radiation at the evacuation area in Ushita-cho at the age of three|
|1950||Become Sadako's classmate in second grade at Nobori-cho Primary School|
|1954||Bamboo Class, sixth grade, Nobori-cho Primary School|
|1963||Graduated from Yasuda Women's College|
|1995||Started sharing the story of the erection of Children's Peace Monument to children who came to Hiroshima for peace study|
|2013||Self-published book "The Children's Peace Monument" 6th Grade Bamboo Class is selected for Japanese Self-publishing Culture Prize.|
|2016||DVD of Writing by talk "The Children's Peace Monument" 6th Grade Bamboo Class is selected as an educational film by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.|
She is still playing an active role passing on stories of her A-bomb experience.