By the end of July the weather has turned warm and sunny, and Sadako is feeling a little bit better. She is halfway to one thousand cranes, and she feels that something good is about to happen. Soon, her appetite comes back, and her pain recedes. Dr. Numata tells Sadako that she can go home for a visit. The night before her trip home, Sadako is so excited that she cannot sleep, and stays awake making cranes until she reaches six hundred and twenty two.
Sadako’s excitement at the prospect of going home offers her a bolt of excitement and a renewal of faith. This faith is connected once again to the cranes: as she regains her hope and optimism, Sadako engages in a burst of crane-making. Her faith in her project—and in her recovery—newly restored.
When Sadako arrives home it is time for O Bon, the biggest holiday of the year—a celebration for spirits of the dead who return to visit those they had loved on earth. The Sasakis have cleaned the house and filled it with fresh flowers and Sadako’s cranes, and Sadako’s parents are preparing delicious holiday food. As Sadako watches her mother place a lantern outside their home so the spirits can find their way, Sadako hopes that maybe she can stay home for good.
Sadako’s arrival at home makes her feel safe, loved, and optimistic for the first time in a long while. Being surrounded by familiar comforts makes her feel as if her illness is far away from her, at least for the moment, and the idea of returning home for good brings her a new kind of joy, purpose, and excitement.
Over the next several days friends and family come and go from the Sasaki house all the time, calling on Sadako. By the end of the week she is pale and tired again, and when Mr. Sasaki remarks that Sadako has “good manners now,” Mrs. Sasaki laments having lost the “lively Sadako.” Sadako knows she is making everyone around her sad, and wishes she could suddenly turn into her old self.
As the week progresses, Sadako is drained of all the excited energy she felt at being home. Her parents are upset and uncomfortable in the face of her listlessness, and while her father attempts to lighten the mood, her mother is devastated by the loss of her bright, sunny daughter. Sadako begins to realize the impact that her illness has on those around her.
The next day, Sadako returns to the hospital, and finds herself strangely glad to be back in her quiet hospital room. Her parents sit beside her as she drifts in and out of sleep, and she asks them to put bean cakes on the family altar for her spirit once she has died. Her parents assure her she will live a long time, and beg her not to give up. As Sadako falls asleep, she vows to get better and one day “race like the wind.”
Sadako, who had been so excited to leave the hospital and visit home, now finds herself relieved to return to the peace and quiet of her room. This is a big change in Sadako—a change that she recognizes in herself. She is exhausted, demoralized, and for the first time beginning to seriously consider the prospect that she’ll never really return home, though her hopes of having her health and strength restored continue to color her dreams and fantasies.
From that day on Sadako receives numerous transfusions and shots every single day. Sadako does not complain about the pain from the treatments, and instead grows overwhelmed by a “bigger pain”—the fear of dying. She has to fight the fear as hard as she has to fight her disease, and often looks to the golden crane for comfort and hope.
Sadako’s illness grows worse, and she feels more and more isolated as the pain sets in. Her cranes continue to offer her comfort, and the hope that she might still one day be able to live a life without pain and the fear of death.
Sadako’s mother spends more and more time at the hospital, and it hurts Sadako to see her mother so worried all the time. As fall approaches, her whole family comes for a visit. Eiji hands Sadako a box wrapped in gold paper—when Sadako opens it, she finds a silk kimono with cherry blossoms on it inside. Fighting back tears, Sadako asks her parents why they spent the money on something she’ll never wear, but Mr. Sasaki tells Sadako to try it on—her mother was up all night the night before sewing it.
Sadako knows that she will never be able to wear the beautiful and luxurious kimono her family has made for her, and sees the garment as a waste of time and money. She doesn’t realize that as the cranes have offered her hope of recovery, making the kimono has perhaps offered her family—and especially her mother—the hope that one day Sadako will be healthy enough to wear it.
Sadako’s parents help her try on the kimono, and as she takes small steps around her room, everyone agrees that she looks like a princess. Just then, Chizuko comes in for a visit, and tells Sadako that she should wear the beautiful kimono to school once she is well again. The Sasakis and Chizuko sing songs and play games while Sadako sits in her chair in pain. That night, after Sadako’s family leaves, she folds just one paper crane before falling asleep—it is the last one she will ever make.
The kimono is emblematic of the love Sadako’s family has for her, and the family and cultural traditions that they still, against all odds, hope she will one day be able to be a part of. However, as her family and Chizuko attempt to lift her spirits, Sadako settles into the sad realization that she will never get better, and though she cannot happily accept the kimono as a touchstone or an object of hope, she turns to her cranes for comfort one final time. By this point in the book the symbolism of the cranes has become more complicated. Initially they symbolized Sadako’s hopes of recovery. But as that recovery became ever more unrealistic, and Sadako nonetheless kept making cranes, they have become something else: a symbol of both Sadako’s perseverance in the face of hopelessness, and a dream of freedom from suffering that connects to both Sadako’s desire for an escape from her personal suffering and the broader hope for a world that does not inflict such suffering through war or violence.