Japanese legend says that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes will be granted a wish.
At eight fifteen on the morning of 6 August 1945, the American B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima, instantly incinerating the city and some 80,000 of its people. Many tens of thousands more were to die as a result of injuries and illnesses caused by Little Boy and a second bomb, Fat Man, dropped three days later on Nagasaki.
Wedged between the mountains and the sea, the modern metropolis of more than a million people would now be indistinguishable from many of Japan’s bustling cities if not for the sparkling rivers and retro trams that cut paths through its suburbs, giving the city a certain charm, and emblematic sites like the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with its wretched A-Bomb Dome that give this City of Peace a unique grace.
The image of the orizuru, the origami paper crane, is also emblematic of the city of Hiroshima, the two linked by one of the most enduring stories of the wartime city; that of a young local girl, two-year-old Sadako Sasaki, who survived the bombing apparently unscathed only to succumb to leukemia years later. In hospital, inspired by the ancient legend promising good fortune, Sadako set about folding a thousand cranes. The popular folklore surrounding Sadako’s story, though officially disputed, insists that the 12-year-old girl died before she could fold her thousand cranes and be granted her wish.