Pictures: Nagasaki and Hiroshima Survivors Share Their Stories


70 years ago last week, the atomic bombs were dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The hibakusha—the “exposed” in Japanese—have overcome social stigma to speak out and tell their story.

The average age of the atomic bomb survivors is over 80 years old, and while many may still be alive for the 75th and 80th anniversary, there’s a sense of urgency to document the words of these survivors now. As part of my Fulbright fellowship with National Geographic, I visited both cities on these landmark anniversaries, and spoke with over 20 hibakusha. Four shared their voices.

Photos by Ari Beser

Kazuhiko Futagawa, 69, was exposed to the atomic bomb in his mother’s womb. Here he stands in front of the blouse of the sister he never knew. On August 6, 1945, his father and his sister were working in the center of the city. His father was a postal worker located almost directly under the hypocenter, the center of the blast radius, and he believes he was instantly vaporized. His mother died 15 years ago, but 2 years ago he found this blouse hidden deep in her belongings. It was perfectly preserved. He choked up as he tried to convey the pain his mother must have felt over the daughter she could not save.

Peace Boat, a Japanese NGO Cruise ship partaking in Global Voyages docked in the port of Nagasaki. As part of a shorter East Asian Cruise, the boat visited Korea and Russia as well, but it was the first time the ship docked in Nagasaki. On Board was Hiroshima survivor Shigeko Sasamori, 83, one of the Hiroshima Maidens. In 1955, 25 young women brought to America to receive reconstructive surgery to repair the scars caused by the Atomic Bombs. She admitted to me the Maidens might —> Read More