Sadako’s Story 31/07/2011
Sadako was at home when the explosion occurred, about one mile from Ground Zero. In November 1954, Sadako developed swellings on her neck and behind her ears. In January 1955, purple spots had formed on her legs. Subsequently, she was diagnosed with leukemia (her mother referred to it as “an atom bomb disease”). She was hospitalized on February 21, 1955, and given, at the most, a year to live.
On August 3, 1955, Sadako’s best friend Chizuko Hamamoto came to the hospital to visit and cut a golden piece of paper into a square to fold it into a paper crane, in reference to the ancient Japanese story that promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane. A popular version of the story is that Sadako fell short of her goal of folding 1,000 cranes, having folded only 644 before her death, and that her friends completed the 1,000 and buried them all with her. This comes from the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. An exhibit which appeared in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum stated that by the end of August, 1955, Sadako had achieved her goal and continued to fold more cranes.
Though she had plenty of free time during her days in the hospital to fold the cranes, she lacked paper. She would use medicine wrappings and whatever else she could scrounge up. This included going to other patients’ rooms to ask to use the paper from their get-well presents. Chizuko would bring paper from school for Sadako to use.
During her time in the hospital her condition progressively worsened. Around mid-October her left leg became swollen and turned purple. After her family urged her to eat something, Sadako requested tea on rice and remarked “It’s good.” Those were her last words. With her family around her, Sadako died on the morning of October 25, 1955 at the age of 12.
Obon (お盆?) or just Bon (盆?) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed (deceased) spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
The festival of Obon lasts for three days; however its starting date varies within different regions of Japan. When the lunar calendar was changed to the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the Meiji era, the localities in Japan reacted differently and this resulted in three different times of Obon. “Shichigatsu Bon” (Bon in July) is based on the solar calendar and is celebrated around 15 July in eastern Japan (Kantō: areas such as Tokyo, Yokohama and the Tohoku region), coinciding with Chūgen. “Hachigatsu Bon” (Bon in August) is based on the solar calendar, is celebrated around the 15th of August and is the most commonly celebrated time. “Kyu Bon” (Old Bon) is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and so differs each year. “Kyu Bon” is celebrated in areas like the northern part of the Kantō region, Chūgoku, Shikoku, and the Southwestern islands. These three days are not listed as public holidays but it is customary that people are given leave.
umi no hi (Marine Day) 17/07/2011
Marine Day (海の日 Umi no Hi?), known as ‘Ocean Day’ or ‘Sea Day’ is a Japanese national holiday celebrated on the third Monday in July. Many people take advantage of the holiday and summer weather to take a beach trip in honor of Marine Boy.
July 20 was actually designated Marine Commemoration Day way back in June 1941 to mark the return of Emperor Meiji to the port of Yokohama in 1876 from a trip to northern Japan.
But it was not a national holiday, and so a number of ocean-related organizations got together in 1991 to seek a holiday for the sea. Thanks to strong public support for the idea, July 20 was finally declared a national holiday in 1995 after several years of debate in the National Diet.
Until then, there were no holidays in the months of June, July, and August. The Japanese public was happy to gain a day off in the summer months, but the kids were probably the happiest of all, since they could now start their summer vacation – which frequently starts on July 21 – one day earlier.
Source: Kids Web Japan
This is a modern national holiday so there are no traditional events associated with it. However, many aquariums and swimming pools in and around Tokyo will have special events and discounts on this day. Turn this to your advantage if you have children and have a cheap and fun day out.
If you’re feeling the heat, there’s also numerous beach parties that Tokyoites will flock to – it’s hot in July! Check our Tokyo events calendar for upcoming fun!
Popular areas include Kamakura, Enoshima, and Zushi, as well as the man-made beach in Odaiba.