Symbol of Peace

Shino Yoneda using origami cranes to teach about peace

Shino Yoneda shows off some of the origami cranes she plans to take to Japan.

Shino Yoneda shows off some of the origami cranes she plans to take to Japan.

The Second World War ended nearly 70 years ago, but for some families in Japan, its impact will be felt for generations to come, says Shino Yoneda.

“I had read so many stories about Japan, but it was not a very serious study about what happened in the past. I thought it was just history,” said the Qualicum Beach mother of two. “Then one day at university I met a classmate from Hiroshima and I learned he had to carry special identification because his parents were exposed to the bomb and when he developed a radiation-developed disease, the government would take care of him.”

His children and grandchildren, she added, would also have to carry the card.

“It really hit me. The war is over and in the history books, but not really. People like him will always carry that fear, that ticking time bomb in their body.”

Yoneda, who was born in the town of Shizuoka, south of Tokyo,  knows there’s not much she can do to prevent the long-term damage from the fallout from the  March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami that damaged the Fukushima nuclear, power plant, but she wants to make sure her children know all there is to know about it — and she wants to deliver at least some moral support to her country of origin.

She is taking a page from the book of Sadako Sasaki, a 10-year-old Japanese girl who tried to stave off her death from leukemia as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by making 1,000 origami cranes. In Japan, the crane is seen as a mystical creature and folding 1,000 origami cranes is said to make one’s wish come true.

Unfortunately, Sasaki didn’t find out if the legend was true, succumbing to her cancer after having folded only 644 of her cranes. Her friends and family members completed the 1,000 and buried them with her. Since then, the origami crane has been seen as a symbol of world peace.

Yoneda is asking Qualicum Beach residents to help her fold 1,000 origami cranes prior to her leaving for Japan on Dec. 12.

“I am going to visit my parents, but this time I will take my children to Hiroshima, because I want them to learn what happened there and what kind of mistake we made and learn from those mistakes,” she said. “The war was bad enough, but now we have the nuclear power plant and that radiation. I want my children to learn about how nuclear power and atomic bombs are not helping.”

She said she is hoping to takethe cranes to the Hiroshima memorial, which contains a monument to Sasaki.

“I want students around the area, adults, whoever wants to help,” she said. “The purpose is not only to help Hiroshima but for peace all over.”

Yoneda said she would be happy to teach origami crane-making to anyone who wants to learn.

She can be reached at 250-752-7597.