|Fifty-eight years ago, on August 6, 1945, a single atomic bomb dropped by the United States utterly destroyed the city of Hiroshima. Hundreds of thousands of residents died. Those who survived endured the overwhelming grief of losing family and friends and braved bewildering post-war confusion to rebuild their city. Even so, the horror and tragedy of the bombing have never faded from their collective memory. This museum, with the help of NHK Hiroshima Broadcasting Station and the Chugoku Shimbun, conducted an A-bomb drawing campaign entitled “To Convey…the Desire for Peace Across the Centuries.” The drawings we received derived from memories that remain vivid even after a half-century. Invested with still-intense grief for many who died in agony, begging for water, they also expressed the desire to somehow convey that horror, to make sure the world knows what happened. They are truly a people’s record of the atomic bombing, invaluable testimony to the fate nuclear weapons hold in store. Here we display selected drawings along with rare photos from that time and A-bomb artifacts from our collection. Together, they convey with great clarity the situation in Hiroshima after the bombing. These artists support our intent to continue using these drawings to convey the A-bomb horror and appeal for genuine and lasting world peace.|
|The Mushroom Cloud
The bomb detonated 600 meters above ground, and the cloud created by the rapidly expanded air blew upward fast and high, eventually reaching the stratosphere. The cap of the mushroom spread over several kilometers and was observed with fear and trepidation from distant locations in Hiroshima and even in other prefectures.
A white cloud rose fast into the sky, eventually turning pitch black.
Drawing / Keigo Tanaka 8:15 a.m., August 6, 1945 Approx. 32km from the hypocenter Mibu-cho, Yamagata-gun (now, Chiyoda-cho, Yamagata-gun)
The blast pressure was an extremely high 19 tons per square meter even 500 meters from the hypocenter. Virtually all wooden houses within a radius of 2 kilometers were toppled, their inhabitants instantly crushed or trapped underneath.
I crawled desperately and got out from under my house. Crowds of people were fleeing to the north. Some were staggering along with such terrible injuries that their skin was hanging in shreds. Others sat by the road staring vacantly into space. The sight of human beings in this state is beyond imagination.
Drawing / Mitsuko Matsutomi
August 6, 1945
Approx. 1,200m from the hypocenter
Throughout the city, flames quickly rose from collapsed buildings, becoming a city-wide conflagration that seemed to scorch the heavens all day and into the night. Those who were able fled for their lives through the flames and black smoke. Countless people were trapped under buildings and burned alive.
When I came to, I heard houses burning. Those trapped under them were calling for help.
Drawing / Yae Yamamoto
August 6, 1945
The city was engulfed in a great fire. Powerful fire storms and whirlwinds arose throughout. Beginning 20 to 30 minutes after the bombing, a heavy rain began falling in northwest sections of the city. This rainfall lowered temperatures dramatically. In mid-summer, people shivered from the cold. Furthermore, during the first hour or two, the huge black drops were full of dust, dirt, and soot lifted up by the explosion. The rain was radioactive.
Injured people fled along the river to avoid the flames. Then, the black rain fell.
Drawing / Kichinosuke Tamada
August 6, 1945
Approx. 1,300m from the hypocenter
The horror of the A-bombing was city-wide. Injured victims fled blindly through flame and smoke seeking a safe refuge. Nearly all were naked and in terrible pain, their clothes and skin burned to shreds. Many fell exhausted as they fled, breathing their last on a road or in a river.
A friend carrying his badly injured daughter
Drawing / Yasuko Kajino
Afternoon, August 6, 1945
Approx. 1,100m from the hypocenter
|Hiroshima at Night
The city was destroyed. Transportation and communication were paralyzed. Those who managed to survive received inadequate treatment and little or no food, passing the night in fiery thirst and pain. Many died before morning. The fire continued. From the outskirts of town, people watched in horror as the sky over Hiroshima turned bright red. Full-scale relief activities began the following day.
All night until dawn I spent shivering in a bamboo grove with my mother, brother and sister. I saw bright red flames in the city.
Drawing / Harumi Watanabe
Night, August 6, 1945
Approx. 3,500m from the hypocenter
|Transporting the Injured
The first to begin relief activities were the soldiers of the Army Marine Headquarters (known as the Akatsuki Corps) stationed in Ujina. They carried the injured to relief stations and outlying towns in trucks, trains, and ships. Those who took the victims in were horrified by their gruesome appearance, the terrible burns covering their bodies, but they cared for them in every way they could.
Many injured victims were carried in hospital by trucks.
Drawing / Hatsue Miyoshi
Around 11:50 a.m., August 6, 1945
Approx. 26km from the hypocenter
Saijo-cho, Kamo-gun (now, Higashi Hiroshima City)
|Begging for Water
The powerful heat rays from the atomic bomb caused severe burns. Barely covered by tattered clothing, the victims held their peeling arms forward as they wandered in blind confusion. Their burns, the fire, and the mid-August heat made the victims terribly thirsty. Many died without receiving even a final drink.
People burned begged continually for water.
Drawing / Yoshihisa Harada
Around 4:00 p.m., August 6, 1945
Approx. 1,750m from the hypocenter
|Corpses in Cisterns
Fire cisterns were placed throughout the city to provide water for fighting fires in the event of an air raid. The fire ignited by the A-bomb, however, vastly exceeded Hiroshima’s fire-fighting capacity. The population was helpless in the face of the ferocious conflagration. Surrounded by fire, many sought safety in the fire cisterns, where they died.
People seeking water piled up on each other in the fire cistern.
Drawing / Yozo Tanaka
Around 1:00 p.m., August 7, 1945
Approx. 1,000m from the hypocenter
|Corpses Floating in the River
Hiroshima is built on the Otagawa River delta, and the seven rivers running through it were vital to its growth. They provided a convenient network for the transportation of cargo and served as children’s playgrounds as well. After the bombing, burned victims went to the rivers for water. Some jumped in or swam across to escape the fire, but many died in the water, floating down with the current or hung up on the pilings. The Otagawa River was completely full of corpses.
Its leg caught on a bridge beam, a completely naked corpse was being tossed by the waves.
Drawing / Kiyomi Kono
August 7, 1945
Approx. 2,250m from the hypocenter
|Corpses in the Ruins
When everything combustible had burned, the fire died down. In the burned ruins lay the charred corpses of those who were trapped under buildings and burned alive. Countless people-adults, children, men and women-suffered this terrifying fate.
The blackened corpses of a woman and the child at her feet appeared to have been trying to get off the streetcar.
Drawing / Miyoshi Kokubo
|The Burned Plain
Within two kilometers of the hypocenter, buildings burned to the ground, leaving nothing but scorched earth. With nothing standing but a few ferro-concrete buildings, the view from Hiroshima Station to Ninoshima Island in Hiroshima Bay was unobstructed. Survivors gathered unburned wood and scorched tin roofing to build shacks in the rubble.
I rode my bicycle through the ruined city, my nostrils assaulted by peculiar smells.
Drawing / Yoshio Kawata
Around 9:00 a.m., August 7, 1945
Approx. 2,250m from the hypocenter
Near Miyuki Bridge
In 1945, schools at the junior high level and above had nearly abandoned schooling. Instead, students were mobilized to work in military factories or demolish buildings for fire lanes. Of the approximately 8,400 students mobilized, 6,300 were killed. The first- and second-year junior high students and girls who were out in the open demolishing buildings in the city center were hardest hit.
Mobilized students lying on each other on the riverbank passed away.
Drawing / Misae Kinoshita
Early morning, August 7, 1945
With everything destroyed by fire, bridges were precious landmarks for orientation. Many of the fleeing victims rested on or below bridges, often breathing their last there. Seven bridges collapsed or were burned due to the A-bomb, but another 20 were washed away in the typhoon and flooding that struck the city that September and October. These subsequent losses, too, were largely attributable to A-bomb damage.
Dazed people crouched on the riverbank path at the foot of a bridge.
Drawing / Shizuko Matsunaga
Around 9:00 a.m., August 6, 1945
Approx. 1,750m from the hypocenter
Near Minami-ohashi Bridge
|Mothers and Children
Most victims were ordinary citizens, and the corpses of women and children were found in the burned ruins. The sight of mothers who obviously died trying to protect their babies provoked great sorrow and rage against war.
A mother with child had collapsed and died but still looked alive.
Drawing / Yuko Narahara
August 9, 1945
Relief stations were hastily established in still-standing schools throughout the city and in outlying communities. However, the enormous number of injured soon exhausted medical supplies. There was also a shortage of doctors and nurses, and the victims in relief stations continued to groan and cry in agony.
The injured lined up at a relief station set up on the riverbed.
Drawing /Shichi Tsukamoto
Around 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., August 6,1945
|Flies and Maggots
Sanitation and hygiene deteriorated rapidly. Hiroshima was soon infested by flies. In the absence of medicine and bandages, flies swarmed open wounds, which were soon crawling with maggots. These emitted a terrible stench and added to the victims・torment.
Injured people with faces so charred and peeling they were unrecognizable. Flies swarmed around them and bred maggots. They died begging for water.
Drawing / Chieno Yamamoto
Within two weeks of August 8, 1945
|Gathering and Cremating Corpses
The vast numbers of corpses filling the burned ruins and the rivers were gathered by military and civil defense teams. In the mid-August heat, corpses immediately began to decompose and smell, so they were cremated one after the next without even confirming their identities. All around the city, smoke rose from cremation fires day and night.
Cremating on the riverbank bodies gathered in trucks
Drawing / Shigeo Fujii
August 17, 1945
Approx. 2,000m from the hypocenter
|Searching for Family
People walked through the burned ruins to relief stations searching for family members who had left home that morning and failed to return. With transportation and communication paralyzed and the city in turmoil, this was no easy task. Eyes, noses and other features in burned, swollen faces were unrecognizable. Those searching had to listen for familiar voices and look carefully at victims’ belongings. Many simply vanished without a trace.
Among victims burned beyond recognition, I found my uncle calling for my aunt in a weak voice. He breathed his last four hours later.
Drawing / Yukiko Migitani
Approx. 1,700m from the hypocenter
|The Deaths of Loved One
The atomic bomb killed indiscriminately. Most survivors lost their family members. Time can never fully heal the grief of suddenly and incomprehensibly losing several loved ones.
My younger sister waiting for our father to return. Every time she saw a man, she would follow him calling, “Daddy’s home!” She waited for him day after day.
Drawing / Hisako Aobara
Approx. 4.4km from the hypocenter
Gion-cho, Asa-gun (now, Gion, Asaminami-ku)
Symptoms appearing within a short time of the bombing were called acute effects. The distinctive characteristic of the A-bomb was its massive emission of radiation. Radiation destroys cells, bone marrow and other blood-forming functions, causing serious damage to human bodies. Many survivors with no external injuries whatsoever suddenly lost their hair, vomited blood, became covered with purple spots and died.
People went completely bald, bled from their skin and gums, and later died.
Drawing / Fumie Munakata
Me holding my hair that had just fallen out. Beginning about September, I developed a fever and lost my hair, even my eyebrows. I was as bald as a monk.
Drawing / Midori Harada
Even under the hellish conditions after the bombing, the people had to find a way to live. They built shacks in the burned ruins, reopened schools, and taught their children in open air classrooms. And new life was born.
School reopens at Koi Elementary School. However, the crematory site in the playground was still piled with cremated human ash and bone.
Drawing / Takashi Nagara
September 18, 1945
Approx. 2,900m from the hypocenter