Our Guests From Japan

Noriko Onishi, Chinatsu Watanabe, Yuko Pilkey
Kunihiro Shiraishi, Reiko Tanabe, Tomimo Kawakami

    It looks like our guests took this picture back home in Japan, but they are really in Brooklyn, New York, USA.  They were surprised that we have such a beautiful Japanese garden just one block from our school at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  We took them there to show them the cherry blossoms that were blooming in May.
    Our guests are all in New York City studying at Columbia University and they came to visit us from the Global Classroom program at Metro International.  We invited them because we have been studying about Japan.  I used to think that Japan and the United States were always friendly, but I learned that we were enemies in World War II.  It was very harsh.  Both sides did terrible things.  Japan bombed our navy at Pearl Harbor in a sneak attack. We dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  It was the most destructive weapon ever created.
    Innocent people are still dying today because of radiation sickness from the atom bombs.  We read about a girl named Sadako.  She got leukemia.  It is a cancer of the blood.
    She was on the track team.  One day when she was running she felt tired.  I think that's when she realized that she had radiation sickness because she used to be the fastest runner at her school.  She didn't whine about it.  She was very brave.  She just wished she could still be a normal child.

    Sadako heard a legend about a bird called a crane.  It symbolizes good luck and long life to the Japanese.  They like to do origami and fold paper into the shape of a crane.  They said that if you could fold one thousand paper cranes, you could make a wish and it would come true.  She tried but she was too weak to finish.  Her friends tried to help but it was too late.
    Now children all over the world fold paper cranes and send them to Hiroshima. They have a Peace Park there and a statue to remember Sadako.  Our guests showed us how to do it.  It was hard work, but if at first you don't succeed, all you have to do is try again.
    Who would have thought that we were once enemies?  But that was before we were born and we don't still hold grudges.  We all love the things the Japanese send us like Sony TV's, Fuji digital cameras, Hondas, Toyotas, and great cartoons like Pokemon.
    The Japanese and Americans both love cherry trees.  They call them sakura and the blossoms mean something special to them.  Because they are very beautiful but they only bloom for a short time, the Japanese say they show us that life is also beautiful but it does not last forever, so we should not waste it.
    Noriko brought pictures of her friends and family celebrating the cherry blossom festival in Japan.  They like to sit under the trees and have a picnic, which they call hanami.  The sushi looked great.  The visit was wonderful.  We learned a lot and had so much fun.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
By Eleanor Carr
Bantam Books, 1977
ISBN 0440474655

By Lawrence Yep
Apple Books, 1996
ISBN: 0590208330

Linked Web Sites
Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Global Classroom, Metro International

 A-Bomb WWW Museum

A Thousand Cranes For Sadako

Grade 5
Mr. Greenberg, Teacher
Public School 241
976 President Street
Brooklyn, New York 11225 USA