Photo: Wayne Miyao, Bishop Eric Matsumoto, First Lady Mrs. Dawn Ige, Yuji Sasaki of Sadako Legacy, Superintendent Jacqueline Ashwell of Pearl Harbor, and Carole Hayashino. Photo by Pieper Toyama.
The following account was provided by the Office of the Bishop, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii.
A small group of people gathered near the entrance of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. A very simple ceremony was being held. The small number of people and the informality of the ceremony hid the significance of what was taking place, but for those in attendance like First Lady of Hawaii Mrs. Dawn Amano Ige, Carole Hayashino of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Wayne Miyao of the Hiroshima Hawaii Sister State Committee, Pieper Toyama of Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and few others, the moment was historic.
Yuji Sasaki of the Sadako Legacy was presenting folded paper cranes he had collected from various parts of Japan. Among them were paper cranes folded by the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe and his wife, Mrs. Akie Abe. Mrs. Akie Abe had responded to the call of Yuji Sasaki who wanted to reciprocate the gracious gesture of President Obama when the President donated four paper cranes to Hiroshima.
As we know, Prime Minister Abe met with President Obama at the end of December 2016 and together they made statements at Pearl Harbor. Among the many who gathered for the occasion were those connected to Hongwanji, including veteran and Former Bishop Yoshiaki Fujitani, Walter Kunitake, and Bishop Eric Matsumoto, to name a few.
Mrs. Akie Abe had made a surprise visit to Pearl Harbor in August 2016 prior to her husband’s official visit in December and, now, her expression/aspiration for world peace was being presented to Pearl Harbor following his visit. During the New Year’s Holiday, the Prime Minister himself folded a paper crane too. Hence, on this day (in Japan, January 7th, which would be Sadako Sasaki’s birthday), Yuji Sasaki who had been entrusted with the delivery of these cranes to Pearl Harbor by Mrs. Abe presented the cranes to Superintendent Jacqueline Ashwell of the Valor of the Pacific Museum and Honouliuli Monument. Historian Daniel Martinez was there to witness the presentation.
Literally, taking to heart the words, “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the world,” Mrs. Akie Abe had written the word “peace” on the crane she had folded. “It was so touching,” remarked Bishop Matsumoto.
The Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii was honored to plan the presentation ceremony and hopes it will inspire others to embrace the aspiration for world peace.
During his trip, Yuji Sasaki also spent time with students of the Honpa Hongwanji Pacific Buddhist Academy and Hongwanji Mission School, Punahou’s Sadako Project, and Iolani School.
Truly, may 2017 be a significant year in which we move toward an even greater realization of world peace and harmony.