Two kids with big stories

20 Oct

Do you know the story of 春日めぐみ (Megumi Kasuga) or 佐々木偵子 (Sadako Sasaki)?

They are two young Japanese girls that were about the same age when they each had a tragedy in their life and how they reacted made them both famous in Japan.

Megumi Kasuga was a thirteen year old junior high school student in 茨城県 (Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan) when her father died of cancer.
In memory of her father, who wanted to travel overseas on holiday…but never got the chance, Megumi wrote a letter explaining that she hoped people around the world would take her favorite teddy-bear on a world journey.

She gave the letter and the bear to an American visitor in Japan, who in turn gave it to a Swedish tourist in America…who then gave to another tourist when she got back to Sweden.
And the bear’s journey began.

Megumi received letters from people all over the world wishing her well.
Some people were so touched by her story that they came to Japan to meet young Megumi in person.

Here’s the letter she wrote:

Dear Kind Person,

I’m a seventh grade student in junior high school. I’m 13 years old and live in Kashima City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Kashima is located on the Pacific coast, to the northeast of Tokyo. It takes about two hours by car from here to Tokyo, and about one hour to Narita (New Tokyo) International Airport. Soccer is very popular in Kashima. Our city is the home of the only Japan League professional soccer team in Ibaraki Ken, the Kashima Antlers.

My father, at age 52, died of pancreas cancer on April 26 of this year, 1996. He loved to travel, but he didn’t have a chance to travel abroad, except his honeymoon in Hawaii. He was always very busy as a doctor at his hospital. He was also one of the team doctors for the Antlers. I would like to send this little hand-made teddy bear around the world to carry my father’s spirit to all those places that he never could go. My mother and I share this dream. Would you please help me, and take him with you? When you get to your destination, please give Mack to another person so that he can continue his journey. That way, my father can finally see the world through Mack’s eyes.

Thank you for your kindness. May your dreams also come true.

Peace and love,

Megumi Kasuga

P.S. If you can, please send me a picture of yourself and Mack wherever you go, so that I’ll know he is still travelling.

===

Sadako Sasaki was born on 1943 January 7 in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan).
She was two years old when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on that city.

When she turned twelve, Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia and was given less than a year to live.
She had to stay in the hospital.

While she was in the hospital, she began to fold 千羽鶴 (1000 Origami Cranes) which are a good luck gesture in Japan.

千羽鶴 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes)

千羽鶴 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes)

Sadako folded any piece of paper she could find in the hospital into a paper crane. Hospital staff, other patients and friends and family helped her and gave her any paper they could.

On 1955 October 25, Sadako’s mother made a special meal for her and gave it to her in the hospital.
The last word Sadako Sasaki said before she died that day at age 12 was 「おいしい」 (“It’s delicious“).

Sadako only managed to fold less than 700 paper cranes before she died.
Her friends and family folded the rest and put all 1000 paper cranes in Sadako’s casket with her.

Sadako Sasaki’s story has come to symbolize the need for world peace and there is a statue of her in Hiroshima.
People often leave 千羽鶴 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes) at the statue.

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15 Responses to “Two kids with big stories”

  1. Anonymous March 9, 2016 at 11:45 am #

    Hi, I’m an english teacher here in Ibaraki Prefecture. The story of Megumi Kasuga is also in our 2nd grade (JHS) text book. Could you give me a japanese source for her story or website that I could send to the Japanese staff I work with? Thanks in advance!

    Like

    • tokyo5 March 9, 2016 at 2:43 pm #

      It seems that someone translated that part of the Japanese JHS English class textbook into Japanese,
      here.

      Like

  2. StormGemini November 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    I actually knew about Sadako, I read a book in Elementary school called “Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes” It was one of my favorites even though the ending was sad.

    Like

    • tokyo5 November 19, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      Yes, it’s a sad story. Did your elementary school teach about her story? Was it an American public school?

      Like

      • StormGemini November 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

        I was taught the story through an after school activity called “Camp Fire Girls” but yes it was out of my Elementary school. We were learning about origami at the same time. We actually made paper crane leis for the athletes of the 1998 winter Olympics (in Nagano I believe) as well. I attended an American Private School (which went from Kindergarten to 8th grade).

        Like

      • tokyo5 November 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

        >We were learning about origami at the same time.

        Can you fold origami?

        >We actually made paper crane leis for the athletes of the 1998 winter Olympics (in Nagano I believe)

        Yes, the ’98 Olympics were in Nagano, Japan.

        >I attended an American Private School

        I thought it must have been a private school … I was never taught anything in public school in America that might have portrayed the bombing of Japan in a negative light.

        It’s good that you were able to learn more than one side of history.

        Are you from Buffalo, New York? I went to Niagara Falls near there once many years ago.

        Like

      • StormGemini November 20, 2013 at 6:25 am #

        -Yes I can fold origami, I can make several different ones too. Paper cranes are my favorite.
        -I really do enjoy learning about all sides of different historical events (I also learned about WWII from the Italian perspective as well, my grandfather was a soldier in that one)
        -Yes, I am from Buffalo,NY; born and raised. Niagara falls is really pretty. I’ve seen both the American side of the falls as well as the Canadian side.
        -I would really like to go to Japan it’s been my dream for years (my parents wouldn’t let me do exchange programs when I was in school, unfortunately). I’m older now so I have been trying to save up to go there 🙂

        Like

      • tokyo5 November 20, 2013 at 7:17 am #

        >Paper cranes are my favorite.

        Called ‘tsuru’ in Japanese.

        -I really do enjoy learning about all sides of different historical events… //… I am from Buffalo,NY…Niagara falls is really pretty.

        Why don’t you write a blog post about what you’ve learned about history?
        And some posts about the Buffalo, NY area?

        >I would really like to go to Japan

        You should visit Japan if you get a chance.

        Like

  3. tokyo5 August 7, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    I was surprised to find that my blog post is discussed on Wikipedia.

    It seems that Wikipedia has a “Reference Desk” page on which people can ask and answer (seemingly random) questions.

    On that page, someone asked if the stories of the two people I wrote about here are true or if they’re “urban legends”…and a couple of people replied that they believe the stories sound true.

    Well, they are true stories. These two girls are well known in Japan.

    Anyways, the Wikipedia page is here.

    Like

  4. paru October 23, 2009 at 9:01 am #

    I’m Japanese, yet, I didn’t know the story of Megumi !
    Thank you for sharing!

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 23, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

      Well, I’m sure at least you already knew about Sasaki Sadako.

      Like

  5. bartman905 October 20, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    No, I didn’t know about these stories – thank you for sharing. We are planning to visit Hiroshima soon (I hope) and I’ll have to look for Sadako’s statue there.

    Like

    • tokyo5 October 20, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

      You didn’t know about them?
      They’re famous in Japan.

      You should definately go to Sadako’s statue in Hiroshima!

      Like

  6. gigihawaii October 20, 2009 at 3:39 am #

    What touching stories! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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