Humbled in Hiroshima

“She explained that the crane, a sacred bird in Japan, lives for a hundred years, and if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, then that person would soon get well. After hearing the legend, Sadako decided to fold 1,000 cranes in the hope that she would get well again.”

– Hiroshima International School

I’d read the story of Sadako Sasaki and her thousand paper cranes when I was in primary school. It’s a very sad one, but I do recommend it.

During the planning phase of our Japan trip, I knew that Hiroshima was high on my list of cities to visit. A friend had told me that when in Hiroshima he’d also visited nearby Miyajima Island so we added it to the list. We stayed at Hiroshima Garden Palace, which was close to the train station to make things a bit easier for us. The lovely people at our hotel let us check in early.

We walked to Hiroshima Castle and entered one of the rooms, where we removed our shoes and instead wore a pair of slippers provided. I secretly hoped we could tour the entire castle wearing comfy slippers but alas they were only required for the one room.

Destroyed by the same atomic bomb that determined Sadako Sasaki’s fate, Hiroshima Castle was a combination of ruins, surviving trees and a reconstruction-turned-museum. The castle’s tower provided amazing views of the surrounding city.

Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park was humbling to say the least. It’s difficult to put into words what I felt when I walked through the park. I was in awe of the A-Bomb Dome, a building that survived the bomb blast despite its proximity to ground zero.

The Children’s Peace Monument commemorates Sadako Sasaki and all children who died as a result of the bomb and its radiation. It is surrounded by a rainbow’s worth of paper cranes from around the world, which are donated daily.

The Peace Flame is particularly poignant as it has continued to burn since it was first lit in the 1960’s and will continue to do so until all nuclear bombs on the planet have been destroyed.

One can only hope.

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