The Children’s Peace Monument stands in memory of all children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The monument was originally inspired by the death of Sadako Sasaki, who was exposed to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of two. Ten years later, Sadako suddenly developed leukaemia and was hospitalised in February the following year. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she could recover and so she continuously made the origami birds. After an eight-month battle with the disease she succumbed.
A man who learned about Sadako’s death from a newspaper suggested building a monument to console the souls of all the children who died as a result of the atomic bomb. Sadako’s elementary school classmates agreed and distributed flyers, asking for donations for the monument, in front of a hall where a conference of the National Junior High School Principal’s Association was being held. The movement spread throughout Japan and overseas, with approximately 3,000 schools contributing a total of 5.4 million yen, and the memorial was unveiled on the 5th of May 1958.
At the top of the nine-metre monument, a statue of a young girl lifts a crane entrusted with dreams for a peaceful future. Underneath, a golden crane hangs suspended from a bell within the pedestal’s domed interior. Countless paper cranes are sent from across Japan and around the world to adorn the memorial every year.
The inscription on the stone block under the monument reads: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world.” On the surface of the bell hung inside the monument, the phrases “A Thousand Paper Cranes” and “Peace on Earth and in the Heavens” are carved in the handwriting of Dr. Hideki Yukawa, Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics.
- Information sign at the Children’s Peace Monument
- Information signs at the Hiroshima Peace Museum