August 6th, 2006

art

Art on Sunday: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Kenzo Tange (1913 – 2005)
Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace, 1952
Concrete
Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan

Today is the sixty-first anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. This simple memorial, designed to evoke ancient arch-style houses once common in Japan, stands over a stone cenotaph holding the official registry of the names of the people killed in the attack; the registry currently lists 226,870 names. The cenotaph is inscribed with the words, "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil." Visible through the arch is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, the remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the building closest to the center of the blast to remain standing. It has been preserved in its damaged state since that time.

Kazuo Kikuchi
Children's Peace Monument (detail)
Bronze
Children's Peace Monument
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is also home to the Children's Peace Monument, which I think is rather lovely. The statue is of Sadako Sasaki, a twelve-year-old girl who died of leukemia ten years after the bombing. Having been told of a legend that said anyone who folded 1,000 origami cranes would be granted a wish, she folded 1,400 cranes during her fourteen months in the hospital before passing away. (The popular version of the story, as related in Eleanor Coerr's Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, is that she fell short of her goal, and that her friends completed 1,000 cranes and buried them with her, can be attributed to dramatic license on the part of the author.) Her classmates raised the funds for the construction of this statue. A stone under the pedestal reads, "This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world."
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