Caren Stelson



for all

The Path to Sachiko: The Journey Continues …

bk_sachiko_220px-8267169This January, right after New Year’s, I trav­eled to Nagasaki, Japan to ful­fill a promise. I would present Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story to Sachiko Yasui. Sachiko and I had been dream­ing of this day for a long time.

When Sachiko and I worked togeth­er to write her sto­ry, she was strong and vig­or­ous. But in late 2013, Sachiko had a major stroke that left her par­a­lyzed on one side. Today, she is con­fined to a wheel­chair in a nurs­ing home, no longer able to trav­el through­out Japan to tell her sto­ry. What would I say to Sachiko when I saw her?

As I flew from my home in Minneapolis to Tokyo, I thought about Sachiko. I also thought about all the peo­ple brought togeth­er as I wrote her sto­ry. My edi­tor Carol Hinz and book design­er Danielle Carnito from Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group would meet me in Nagasaki. So would my Minneapolis trans­la­tor Keiko Kawakami, Carol Hinz’s father Mike, my daugh­ter Beth, and JoAnn Blatchley and Robert Palmer, two mem­bers of the Saint Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee. Our del­e­ga­tion of eight from the United States rep­re­sent­ed our “Sachiko Village” in America. Our Nagasaki friends, also part of the “Sachiko Village,” would soon wel­come us to their city and host us for the week.

The day after our del­e­ga­tion arrived in Nagasaki, we drove to the nurs­ing home. I stood before Sachiko, show­ing her the book with her mes­mer­iz­ing child­hood pho­to on the cov­er. “This is your voice,” I said to Sachiko, as I placed the book in her hands. Your sto­ry is being read all over the United States, just as we hoped it would.

Author Caren Stelson and Sachiko Yasui meet­ing in Nagasaki, January 2017

Sachiko held the book in her hands. She and I had come to the end of a long jour­ney begun with our first meet­ing in Nagasaki in 2010. I looked around at the faces of all of us who sur­round­ed Sachiko—American and Japanese. Our eyes glis­tened even as we smiled. We were a pic­ture of inter­na­tion­al peace and friend­ship. In that moment, I knew I had come to the end of one jour­ney, but I was at the begin­ning of anoth­er. I knew that this work of peace and world friend­ship had to continue.

Sachiko Yasui sur­round­ed by her “Sachiko Village,” bring­ing Sachiko to Sachiko, January 2017.

Before I sent in my man­u­script to Carolrhoda/Lerner Publishing Group, I asked Sachiko if she had any last words of advice for young peo­ple she would like me to add to the page. She did:

“What is peace?
What kind of per­son should I be?
Keep purs­ing answers to these questions.”

I’ve been think­ing of Sachiko’s words ever since I wrote them down. What did they mean for me? That the work for peace is con­stant. That to be the per­son you hope to become is an ever-present chal­lenge. If I am to keep pur­su­ing Sachiko’s ques­tions, I will need to keep walk­ing the Sachiko path and keep talk­ing out loud as I go. This new month­ly blog, The Path to Sachiko: The Journey Continues …  will share resources, class­room ideas, pro­grams, books, and expe­ri­ences I encounter as I share Sachiko’s sto­ry with oth­ers and pur­sue my own path­ways to peace. I hope you will share your ideas with me and togeth­er we help our next gen­er­a­tion of young peo­ple lead the way to world peace.

Our Sachiko American-Nagasaki del­e­ga­tion vis­it­ing Mayor Tomihisa Taue at Nagasaki City Hall, January 2017. The week of our vis­it to Nagasaki, Mayor Taue per­son­al­ly deliv­ered a copy of Sachiko to then Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in Tokyo.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.