August 6th. 1945, at precisely 8:15 in the morning, the
U.S. detonated an Atomic Bomb over the city of Hiroshima.
Three days later on August 9th, at precisely 11:02 in
the morning - a second Bomb was exploded over the city
of Nagasaki. The Japanese called it pikadon (flash-boom).
There was a blinding flash of light brighter than the
sun, followed by a tremendous shock wave and a searing
blast of heat. Huge poisonous mushroom clouds ascended
into the sky and a deadly radioactive black rain fell.
Those at the center of the blasts were incinerated, leaving
only their shadows behind. Others were crushed flat by
the concussion of the blasts. Those within a mile and
a half of the explosions died from unimaginable burns
and intense radiation.
the thumbnails for the full picture and explanatory text
who survived the blasts became known as hibakusha
(Atom Bomb Survivors). Weeks after the explosions, even
those who where uninjured began to succumb to a terrible
plague. Those affected would loose their hair and purple
spots would erupt on their skin. Vomiting, diarrhea, and
uncontrollable bleeding from the gums was followed by
death. At the time the Japanese did not realize they were
dying from radiation sickness, instead they imagined they
were in some Buddhist Hell. The atomic age began in 1945
with the pulverizing of two major urban centers and the
vaporization of some 200,000 human beings. Sadly, hibakusha
in Japan are still dying today from their radiation
induced sicknesses and wounds.
6th, 2015, marks the 70th Anniversary of the atomic bombings
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; solemn commemorations will
take place in a world now bristling with thousands of
nuclear weapons. Britain, France, Israel, China, India,
North Korea, and Pakistan
all possess weapons of mass destruction many times more
powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan. Any
use of such weapons would result in untold civilian casualties.
2011 the Obama
administration conducted tests to "examine the effectiveness"
of U.S. nuclear weapons. In his fiscal year 2016 budget,
President Obama allocated $73 billion to "modernize" the
U.S. nuclear arsenal; credible studies conclude the actual
cost of updating
America's atomic weapons might run as high as $1 trillion.
A war may yet break out over
Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons; and let us
not fool ourselves, the new Cold War between the U.S.
and Russia could easily spin out of control and culminate
in a nuclear conflagration.
paintings comprising this exhibition are sober reminders
of the reality of atomic warfare, created by people who
actually lived through an atomic holocaust. The artworks
came about in 1974, when a survivor presented a hand drawn
picture to the office of Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK
- Japan Broadcasting Corporation). That single drawing
was broadcast on Japanese television and soon a flood
of thousands of drawings by other hibakusha began
to arrive at the offices of NHK. An exhibition of the
collected paintings and drawings was mounted at the Peace
Culture Center of Hiroshima in 1975, and since that
time the artworks have been compiled into several books
and traveling exhibitions.
of those materials were placed into my hands in 1984,
when I had the great honor of meeting Barbara Reynolds.
Miss Reynolds (who passed away in 1990) was a Quaker peace
activist who had lived in Hiroshima for some 15 years.
She was devoted to the cause of world peace and dedicated
much of her life's work to spreading the message of the
hibakusha. Miss Reynolds entrusted me with a rare copy
of a book little known in the West, Hiroshima Nagasaki
- A Pictorial Record of the Atomic Destruction. (published
in Japan in 1978 by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Publishing
Committee). That book is an exhaustive, encyclopedic work
that details in chilling photographs what actually occured
at ground zero in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (some of the
hibakusha artworks contained in the book form the basis
for this exhibition).
Reynolds also assisted me in bringing the hibakusha artworks
to the United States. With her gracious help I was able
to mount a Los Angeles Gallery Exhibition in 1984 of some
50 hibakusha artworks (a few of those images also appear
on these pages). The
majority of artworks presented here were created by non-professional
artists, with the exception being three selections by
Iri and Toshi Maruki.
established artists at the time of the bombings, Iri and
Toshi traveled to Hiroshima three days after the blast,
and what they found forever change their lives. The artists
were haunted by the unbelievable carnage, and three years
later they began to draw and paint the hell they had glimpsed.
The result of their efforts were the monumental Hiroshima
Panels, one of the most profound works of art
from the 20th Century. Every bit as impressive as Picasso's
famous mural, Guernica, the panels by the Maruki's
(now deceased), are on display in a special museum located
Keiji Nakazawa was seven years old when the Atomic Bomb
fell on his home in Hiroshima. He later became an artist
and created the manga (visual novel) known as Hadashi
no Gen, or "Barefoot Gen" in English.
It was an autobiographical comic first published in 1972
that was eventually made into an anime released in 1983.
In 1985 I was among a handful of people that viewed the
film's U.S. premiere in Los Angeles at the Buddhist
Higashi Hongwanji Temple in the historic Little Tokyo
district of L.A. In this excerpted
scene from the English language version of the anime,
the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is depicted in extreme
1978 the husband and wife team of Renzo and Sayoko Kinoshita
created the short anime titled Pikadon, or "Flash
Blast" in English. Less than 10 minutes long, the anime
dispenses with a story and dialog and simply depicts the
blast and its effect on the population of Hiroshima. Unlike
Barefoot Gen, Pikadon was never released
in the U.S.; it remains an underground film of sorts that
was shared on VHS tape. Incomplete video copies of bad
quality are available on YouTube, but I
have selected the best quality version for you to
of the Hiroshima
Panels. An overview of the antiwar murals created
by artists Iri and Toshi Maruki.
Gallery For The Hiroshima Panels in Japan houses
the murals created by Iri and Toshi Maruki.
webpage of the Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Museum.
webpage of the Japanese
the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombings, the United
States sent film crews to record the destruction.
The resulting footage was so shocking that the U.S. kept
the film secret for 30 years - fearing that it would cast
doubt upon its use of atomic bombs. In July of 2011, Greg
Mitchell published a book on the subject titled "Atomic
Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki and
The Greatest Movie Never Made". Google pulled
the book's online video trailer advertisment, claiming
that it "promotes violence." The Raw
Story website covered the controversy.