August sixth, 1945: A bomb is dropped over Hiroshima and everything explodes in an inferno of heat and fire. In the outskirts of the area a little 2-year old girl, Sasaki Sadako, survives. She grows up as a happy, energetic girl who loves to sing. The family moves back to Hiroshima to run their barber shop. Sadako starts in school, the the bamboo class. She has a good health and can outrun the the others in her class.
Almost 10 years later: 11 years old she is the last runner in a relay race at the harvest festival and wins. But shortly after that she becomes ill for the first time in her life: a cold, and stiffness in the neck. After Christmas her face swells. The doctors' diagnosis is clear: you have the bomb disease, leuchemia, and may not live more than a year. Sadako is sent to the Hiroshima Red Cross hospital.
August 1955: A high school class donates 1000 cranes to the patients at the hospital. Some of the cranes ends up i Sadako's room and she learns about the legend: fold a 1000 cranes and your wish will be fulfilled. She plunged into the task of folding the 1000 cranes herself: let me become healthy again. Even at days of headache and fever she folds.
While folding the six hundred and fortyfifth crane she must stop, puts the unfineshed crane away, and falls asleep.
October 25th 1955, precisely one year after the relay race, it is over.
Sadako is dead.
The friends from the bamboo class are deeply touched. They did love Sadako, and also they knew it could have been themselves. They get the idea to raise a monument in memory of the children that died from the atomic bomb, and as a symbol of the hope that in the future no more children will die from atomic bombs. They succeed, and on childrens' day May 5th 1958 the monument is unveiled with the inscription: This is our Cry, This is our Prayer, That there shall be Peace in the World.
Ever since the crane is no longer only a Japanese symbol of luck, but also a global symbol of peace. Monuments in memory of Sadako and the atomic bomb have been raised elsewhere such as Seattle, USA.
Everybody may send cranes and they will be place in protective glass boots around the monument. Every crane is a prayer from those who folds: A prayer for those who suffer, a prayer of peace, a preayer of love.
David Lister on the sacred cranes.
Hiroshima: Click the crane with Sadako and the atomic bombing
Note: The sources disagree if Sadako folded more or less than a 1000 cranes, and if she got help for the folding. The more reliable seem to say that she got help, and that her count exceeded 1000.