Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Very Surprising Day!

We had pancakes and sausage for breakfast today (very American), and PB & J's with Ramen soup for lunch. Later she confessed she only liked the pancakes "some" but I think she enjoyed the Ramen even thought we all laughed how it was actually very American. You see, in Japan, Ramen soup is similar in that it has the same type of noodles, but the broth is very different, and it usually contains some kind of vegetables. After breakfast they pulled out the Trouble game again and had a lot of fun playing that with Savannah who was visiting this day. I titled this post as "surprising" because Yumi really surprised us today. She gave us many unexpected gifts she brought from Japan. Some were hand made by herself or her mother. Some of the other things were beautiful chop sticks, post cards, a beautiful sachet, origami paper and workbooks, and Japanese candy.
Sarah had tried several times to make a paper crane, so when Yumi produced the origami paper, she asked her to make one. Here Yumi is patiently demonstrating how to make a paper crane.
The paper crane has become an international symbol of peace in recent years as a result of it's connection to the story of a young Japanese girl named Sadako Sasaki born in 1943. Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. As she grew up, Sadako was a strong, courageous and athletic girl. In 1955, at age 11, while practicing for a big race, she became dizzy and fell to the ground. Sadako was diagnosed with Leukemia, "the atom bomb" disease.

Sadako's best friend told her of an old Japanese legend which said that anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. Sadako hoped that the gods would grant her a wish to get well so that she could run again. She started to work on the paper cranes and completed over 1000 before dying on October 25, 1955 at the age of twelve.The point is that she never gave up. She continued to make paper cranes until she died. Inspired by her courage and strength, Sadako's friends and classmates put together a book of her letters and published it. They began to dream of building a monument to Sadako and all the children killed by the atom bomb. Young people all over Japan helped collect money for the project. In 1958, a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane was unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park.Today, people all over the world fold paper cranes and send them to Sadako's monument in Hiroshima.

We had read the story of Sadako a few years ago and proceeded to pull out the pictures we had collected. This was a good conversation with Yumi. With sign language she explained the bomb at Hiroshima and told us that her mother had once folded paper cranes to lay at the Peace Memorial.

Sarah thought Yumi needed a break so she found some Japanese Anime cartoons on the demand cable channel. It was in Japanese with English subtitles. We already were aware that much of the original meaning is lost in translation, but they realized the truth of this more when Yumi would laugh at parts that they did not think were really funny.
While making more origami together and still struggling to communicate, Yumi produced an electronic translator. It helped a little, but sometimes it's just hard to reproduce in another language what you really want to say.
But having fun turns out to be a universal language. With these whistling candies Yumi brought from Japan, fun just happens! Besides being fun, they were also tasty!
The origami folding went on all day, these are just some of the samples. I put them on the piano because Yumi also surprised us by playing the piano, she played a beautiful Pachelbel Canon.
Hannah has a job walking the neighbors dogs, so we went along for the fresh air.
Our neighbor Bill came over to visit with Yumi. He was stationed in Japan while in the Marines and found out he had actually traveled closely to her home town. The one landmark that they could both identify through conversation was the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Although Yumi said she had never seen it, she was familiar with it. Bill told us that while traveling with a convoy of supply units through the region they were stopped at this site by Buddhist monks and men wearing Hakama and carrying swords. The convoy was not allowed to pass until a traditional wedding ceremony took place, which took several hours.

Today was wonderful and we look forward to more adventures tomorrow. My only hope is that we will be able to bless Yumi as much as she has blessed us. Not only with the gifts, but with what she has shared of her wonderful self!

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