Pictures: Lessons Learned from Hiroshima and Nagasaki


A new year has begun, and my Fulbright Grant is already halfway complete. I cant believe how quickly time flies. I have spent the last five months in Hiroshima and Nagasaki interviewing survivors of the atomic bombs, or Hibakusha as they are called in Japanese. It is the 70th year since they were dropped over these cities, and while the survivors are aging, they are working fervently to make sure their messages stand the test of time.

In the next few weeks I will transition my work to focus on the Fukushima disaster, but I wanted to share some key moments and influential meetings from the past five months that have made the most impact on me.

Shoso Kawamoto

Shoso Kawamoto was a student at the Fukuromachi elementary school before the atomic bomb was dropped. In April of 1945, four months before the bombing, Kawamoto-san and his classmates were evacuated to the countryside, without their parents. Fukuro-machi Elementary School is located 460 meters (about 500 yards) from ground zero, and it was destroyed in the atomic bomb.

While most students were already evacuated, more than 100 pupils and teachers were in the school at the time of the bombing. The west wing, which wasn’t destroyed because of the concrete foundation, became a place of refuge and a relief station. People left messages on the burned walls with a few pieces of chalk scattered on the floor.

Kawamoto-san is one of the few people who knew those whose names were written here. His teacher Kimura-sensei returned ten days after the bombing, and visited here. “Kimura-sensei came here.” it says, and Kawamoto-san told us another teacher, Kato-sensei, wrote his message, dated August 12, six days after the bomb was dropped

Yoshie Okay

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