Check out Origami Club for a great range of origami models to try to make.
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.
Tanabata Festival 08/07/2011
Tanabata, or the Star Festival, is held on the evening of July 7. The festival traces its origins to a legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and Weaver Star (Vega), lovers separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet just once a year – on the seventh day of the seventh month.
Children and adults write their wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and hang them, along with other paper ornaments, on bamboo branches placed in the backyards or entrances of their homes. They then pray hard that their wishes will come true.
The Tanabata festival is thought to have started in China. It was transmitted to Japan during the feudal period and combined with traditional local customs to become an official event at the Imperial court. Commoners soon began observing this festival, with different localities developed their own distinctive ways of celebrating.
In Tokyo, most people now decorate bamboo branches with just the narrow strips of paper that carry their wishes. At some elementary schools, pupils attach their wishes to a huge bamboo branch, and others put on skits about the legend of the Cowherd and Weaver Stars.
Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture) and Hiratsuka (Kanagawa Prefecture) are particularly famous for their elaborate Tanabata displays. Shopping arcades in these two cities feature huge decorations that are sponsored by local shops, which try to outdo one another in the size of their displays.
Some areas of Japan celebrate Tanabata a month later, on August 7, since this is closer to the seventh day of the seventh month on the traditional lunar calendar. Such communities frequently perform the services for Bon, a period in mid-August when deceased relatives are thought to return, together with the ceremonies for Tanabata.
As Tanabata approaches, decorated bamboo branches can be seen all around the neighborhood, signaling that summer has finally arrived and that summer vacation is just around the corner.
Source: Kids Web Japan