Atonement

1. Opening Lines

Hi to all,
A handful of members in the Seishindo Community have been carrying on some “small talk” on Facebook. Nothing big going on. Just some folks talking about creativity, dieting, and Yogalates.

“Ya’ll come!”
http://www.facebook.com/Seishindo

Charlie

2. Atonement

I was out roller blading and exploring side streets when I came across an older man and his granddaughter selling origami from their garage. They had some beautiful creations, at very cheap prices, and I could see the young girl was anxious for me to buy something. So I spent a few hundred yen and was soon on my way as I needed to get back home and prepare dinner.

A couple of weeks later I decided to see how they were doing, so I took a route that passed by their house. On this day the grandfather introduced himself as “Watanabe”, and said his granddaughter was at the dentist.

While taking a few minutes to get to know grandpa, I noticed a poster he had hanging on the wall, for all to see. It told the story of the now famous Japanese girl by the name of Sadako Sasaki, Since my ability to read Japanese is limited, I asked grandpa to explain what was written.

Here’s what he had to say:
“In 1945 little Sadako was at home when the atomic bomb was dropped one mile away from her house in Hiroshima. She lived for ten difficult years after that, eventually succumbing to leukemia that developed as a result of her exposure to the fallout from the bomb.

While Sadako was in the hospital her best friend came to visit and brought with her an origami paper crane. At first Sadako didn’t understand the meaning of the crane so her friend taught her. “An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury.”

“Inspired by the legend Sadako worked tirelessly making as many cranes as she could, but died shortly after finishing #644. Her friends completed the additional 356 cranes and buried them all with her.”

“The telling of this story over the last fifty years has led to millions of paper cranes being made, as a symbol for world peace. ”

As Watanabe-san finished talking I found myself with tears in my eyes. Someone had told me this story a long time ago, but at the time my Japanese was not good enough to grasp the entire meaning.

“You see,” Watanabe-san said, “I started this origami project with my granddaughter for a number of reasons. I wanted to teach her the value of work, and that high quality work can lead to a reasonable form of income. I also wanted to teach her the importance of paying attention to detail and turning out a high quality product. You need to be very exacting when making paper cranes, otherwise you wind up with a mess. Lastly, I wanted to teach her about charity. Fifteen percent of all she makes, she contributes to the World Peace Foundation in Hiroshima.”

Seeing that I was clearly moved by all he had said, I had a sense that Watanabe-san decided to reach somewhat deeper into his own heart.

“Sometimes,” he said, “When no one has bought anything for a couple of days and my granddaughter is away, I place some money in the box and take out a few items. I give them to the nursery school down the block, and the little ones are always delighted to receive them. When my granddaughter returns I tell her that someone came by and bought the cranes, as a way of symbolizing their desire for world peace.”

“And there’s one more thing,” Watanabe-san said, “I served in the Imperial Army during the Second Big War, and I’m thankful that through my relationship with my granddaughter, I’ve found a way to atone for some of what I did.”

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