‘Remembering Sadako’ Events to Commemorate Hiroshima/Nagasaki

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Jizo statues that survived the Hiroshima bombing are the subject of a photo exhibition.

“This is really a great opportunity to do something positive,” said Los Feliz dentist Ernest Nagamatsu. “This is a global story of peace and caring, and the more people we reach the better.”

Sadako Sasaki was 12 years old and facing advanced leukemia, with her lymph glands already swollen, in this 1955 photo. Clad in a kimono her parents struggled to pay for, she was attending a farewell party at her elementary school in Hiroshima. She died six months later. (Courtesy of Sadako Legacy)

It was a chance meeting with a local resident in Hiroshima some 25 years ago that first put the idea of organizing an event in commemoration of the atomic bombings in Japan into Nagamatsu’s imagination. This weekend, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center will present the result of his early ideas and the work of scores of volunteers, “Remembering Sadako: Folding for Peace,” a series of events to mark the solemn occasion.

This four-day remembrance, which runs from Aug. 2 to 6 at the JACCC, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo, will pay tribute to Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 6, 1945, near her home in Hiroshima. She and the origami paper crane have become international symbols for peace for children around the world.

“Remembering Sadako” is a multigenerational, multiethnic event that will promote peace through arts and culture. The schedule is as follows:

Hibaku Jizō Photo Exhibition in North Gallery

Friday to Tuesday, Aug. 2-6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jizō statues are sometimes accompanied by a little pile of stones and pebbles, put there by people in the hope that it would shorten the time children have to suffer in the underworld. Ken Shimizu exhibit the photos of Jizō that survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

Construction of community sand mandala in JACCC Gallery

Origami crane folding classes

Storytelling by Grateful Crane Ensemble in the plaza

Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3-4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It is said that sand painting is one of the oldest art traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Mandala means “cosmogram” or “world in harmony.” In Varjarayana Tibetan Buddhism, it is believed that when a sand mandala is created, all sentient beings and the surrounding environment are blessed. It is also believed that children upon seeing a sand mandala are left with thoughts that will germinate as sprouts of peace as they mature.

Tools for Peace, a local nonprofit organization located in Pasadena, will help the community create a sand mandala as part of the call for peace.

“The mandala is a symbol of what peace might look like in an individual or in a community as a whole,” says Jamie Price, executive director of Tools for Peace and chief editor of the “Tools for Peace Personal Mandala Workbook.”

The community will have the opportunity to participate in the building of a sand mandala at the JACCC. Representatives from Tools for Peace will explain the significance of a sand mandala.

The community will also be able to participate in the folding of paper cranes that will be displayed at the Peace Ceremony on Monday, Aug. 5.

When Sadako Sasaki was 12, she developed leukemia from the radiation of the Hiroshima bomb and spent her time in a nursing home creating origami cranes in the hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would be cured by the gods. Her wish was simply to live.

However, she managed to fold only 644 cranes before she became too weak to fold any more, and died on the morning of Oct. 25 1955. Her friends and family helped finish her dream by folding the rest of the cranes, which were buried with Sadako.

Jackson Browne (Photo by Alan Koslawski)

Volunteers will teach participants how to fold paper cranes, which will be strung together for the ceremony.

The Grateful Crane Ensemble is a nonprofit theater group whose mission is to present educational and theatrical programs in appreciation for the unique hardships and inspiring contributions of Japanese Americans in U.S. history. For this weekend’s activities, Grateful Crane will debut a story commemorating Sadako.

Completion and display of mandala and cranes

Monday, Aug. 5, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Ceremony for Peace, including meditation for peace; interfaith ceremony; ringing of bell from Hiroshima; destruction of mandala; lighting of butter lamps for peace from flame from Koyasan Buddhist Temple; music and songs

Monday, Aug. 5, from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.

Concert for Peace featuring performance by Jackson Brown at the Aratani Theatre

Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 8 p.m.

Browne has written and performed some of the most literate and moving songs in popular music and has defined a genre of songwriting charged with honesty, emotion and personal politics. His hits include “Doctor My Eyes,” “The Pretender,” “Running on Empty,” “Lawyers in Love” and “Lives in the Balance.” Beyond his music, Browne is known for his advocacy on behalf of the environment, human rights, and arts education.

His performance will be part of a special evening dedicated to world peace and will include an appearance by Sadako’s family from Japan.

Tickets: Premium (Orchestra A-H, Balcony AA), $100; Section A (Orchestra J-L, Balcony BB), $80; Section B (Orchestra M-O, Balcony CC and DD), $60; Section C (Orchestra P-R, Balcony EE), $50. Handling service fee applicable.

Other than the concert, all events are free. For more information, call (213) 628-2725, email [email protected] or visit www.jaccc.org.

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