In a stirring remembrance of the atomic bomb dropping on Hiroshima, Japan 68 years ago, The Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) will host Remembering Sadako: Folding for Peace from August 3–6 in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles.
The four day event will promote peace through the arts, culminating with a performance by long-time peace activist and renowned singer/songwriter, Jackson Browne, in the Aratani Theatre.
Among the special guests will be the brother and nephew of Sadako Sasaki, whose story was immortalized in the children’s book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.”
Sadako was two-year-old when the bomb was dropped. At age 11, she became ill with leukemia from radiation exposure. In keeping with a Japanese legend that says that if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, the gods will make her well again, Sadako spent long hours in bed, folding those paper cranes, and never giving up hope.
When Sadako had folded six hundred and forty-four cranes, and they hung above her bed on strings, her classmates folded the rest.
“Sadako is remembered by children around the globe through the story of a thousand origami cranes,” said Leslie Ito, Chief Executive Officer of the JACCC.
“She and the origami paper crane have become international symbols for peace and we invite people of all ages and ethnicities to join us Aug. 3-6 to celebrate peace through arts and culture.
All events take place at the JACCC, located at 244 South San Pedro Street (between 2nd and 3rd Streets) in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles.
On Saturday and Sunday, August 3 and 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., members of the Grateful Crane Ensemble, a nonprofit theatre ensemble, will hold storytelling for children and families, followed by an origami crane folding workshop.
Also on those days, the community is invited to participate in creating a sand mandala with the nonprofit organization Tools for Peace.
A Tibetan Buddhist tradition, a sand mandala is created and ritualistically destroyed to symbolize the transitory nature of material life.
“The sand mandala is a powerful image and symbol for an event remembering the bombing of Hiroshima,” Ito said.
On Monday, August 5 from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m., the JACCC will host A Call For Peace, an Interfaith Ceremony for Peace, featuring a performance by Sadako’s brother and nephew; as well as music and dance by Nobuko Miyamoto.
The community is invited to participate in the lighting of lamps with a flame originally from Hiroshima, which is now maintained at the Koyasan Buddhist Temple, Ito said.
At the August 5 event, participants will ring a bell sent from Hiroshima “at exactly 4:15 p.m., the time the bomb was dropped,” said Dr. Ernie Nagamatsu, who first had the vision for this event at JACCC.
“At that time, the sand mandala created over the weekend will be destroyed. This event is a remembrance of all victims of war.”
On Tuesday, August 6, the JACCC will host the culminating event for Folding for Peace featuring award-winning singer-songwriter Jackson Browne in the 880-seat Aratani Theatre on the campus of the JACCC.
“It is our great honor to welcome renowned peace activist Jackson Browne to our campus for this event,” said Bill Watanabe, one of the event planners.
“His performance is sure to be stirring and we will honor Sadako’s memory and her family will be in attendance.”
From August 2 through August 6 at the North Gallery of the JACCC, Hibaku Jizo Photo Exhibition will be held as a part of Remembering Sadako: A Call For Peace event.
Hiroshima native Ken Shimizu started capturing the images of atomic-bombed-Jizo statues in 2009. His efforts culminate in publishing photo book Silent Witness – Hiroshima’s Hibaku Jizo in May 2013.
Under the namesake title of the book, Shimizu will bring his first exhibition in the U.S with more than 40 Jizo photographs to Los Angeles to coincide with the Sadako memorial event. The photo exhibition is free to view. Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.