Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On the 6th of August 1945, at 8:16am (Japan time), an American B-29 bomber let loose ‘Little Boy.’ The first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, Little Boy descended upon the Japanese city of Hiroshima and detonated with around thirteen kilotons of force. This is the equivalent of 13,000 tonnes of TNT. In an instant, tens of thousands of people were killed as a direct result of the blast. Many more would succumb to radiation sickness within the year.

As we know the attack on Hiroshima was followed, three days later on August 9th in the early hours of the morning, by a second attack: this time upon the city of Nagasaki. ‘Fat Man’ killed at least 40,000 people, a figure which would also climb as the year wore on.

Hiroshima after the bomb drops, August 1945. Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museums website, UK. © IWM (Q (HS) 833)

Cover of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes

I was lucky enough to visit Japan with some friends in 2016. We spent a few days in Hiroshima. We were eager and curious to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and see the flamboyant chains of 1000 paper cranes displayed in honour of Sadako Sasaki, sent in from around the world. Sadako Sasaki was a young Japanese girl living in Hiroshima at the time of the bombings, who died a few years later from consequential leukaemia. (Read more about Sadako Sasaki’s poignant story)

Yet for me the most moving exhibition of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial was seeing the Atomic (Genbaku) Dome up close, so perfectly preserved in all its horror. Knowing what occurred there, and seeing the once beautiful structure in ruins serves as a powerful testament to the destructive power that humans are capable of. As our trip was in the middle of the Japanese winter, it soon began to snow. The snow fell into the exposed insides of the Genbaku Dome and the atmosphere was sad and eerie. If you head for Japan, make Hiroshima one of your stops. It is well worth a visit.

One Thousand Paper Cranes

The paper crane is probably the most recognisable piece of origami across the world. For something so exquisite, it is really not that difficult to make. Here is a video showing how to fold an origami crane.

Who knows, perhaps you (with some help, hopefully) might fold a thousand paper cranes in honour of Sadako Sasaki to send to the Children’s Peace Monument in Japan, like students from Wairarapa College did earlier this year.

Books in our Collection


Research the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through Christchurch City Libraries’ collection of reference eResources. You may need to log in with your library card and PIN/password. Here are just a few ideas to start:

I found a fantastically informative article on World History in Context. What a great resource for a student writing a speech or an essay, or for anyone interested in the issues and the context:

Browse through the rest of our online encyclopedias, dictionaries and general resources.

Digital Images and Video Footage

The following image is from our local Christchurch resource Kete Christchurch. It is a memorial plaque to the victims of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima & Nagasaki by the Untied States, at the end of World War II. Inscriptions are in Japanese, Māori and English. The plaque can be found on the riverbank reserve, Cambridge Terrace, between Cashel and Hereford Streets.

Atomic Bomb Memorial plaque Cambridge Terrace
Atomic Bomb Memorial plaque Cambridge Terrace by D M Robertson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

Here is archival footage taken from the air, showing the Hiroshima bombing in action

And here is footage surveying damage from the aftermath of the bombing

Find more educational film resources on our eResource Access Video, including this two part BBC documentary on the Hiroshima disaster

Web Resources

Canterbury Japan Day – Sunday 6 March 2016

Canterbury Japan DayJapan Day is an annual event organised by The Japanese Society of Canterbury with the aim of sharing authentic Japanese culture with Cantabrians.

In 2016 it will take place from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 6 March at Riccarton Park Function Centre, Riccarton Racecourse.

The feature attraction will be the demonstration of traditional Japanese Winter New Year and “the Cool Japan”; including Japanese anime and cosplay.

Like Canterbury Japan Day on Facebook to find out more.

Cover Cover Cover

The history of Canterbury Japan Day

The inaugural Canterbury Japan Day was held on 11 March 2012 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Japanese Society of Canterbury and the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between New Zealand and Japan. It also marked the anniversary of the 2011 East Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Canterbury Japan Day
Canterbury Japan Day, Flickr CCL-2012-03-11-CanterburyJapanDay-March-2012 DSC_0569.JPG

Canterbury Japan Day proved very popular and has become an annual event, attracting about 20,000 visitors in 2014.


Get ya geek on: Really useful resources for NCEA Japanese

Cover image of "Under the Osakan sun"Do you dream of moving to Tokyo once you finish school? We can help you get there!

Want some more really useful resources for another NCEA subject? Go to The Pulse, the library’s website for teens.

Thousand year old world music

NaxosI have recently been trawling through the libraries recently acquired Naxos Music Library. To be honest there is far more here than I can envisage being able to digest. It’s rather a daunting wealth of music and if your character isn’t properly steeled it may have you crawling back to the closeted warmth of your desert island discs.

Determined to fight off the familiar … and take on the world. I’ve been getting into world music (ugh, just feel like someone puked on my grave). An irksome term, “world” hardly being a very useful qualifier. And it inspires connotations of background music that some miscreant has assaulted and masticated with a rhythm track, or drawled reverb over; making it sound sleazy, but presumably more palatable … all though I’m not sure if anyone has similar connotations to this term.

The music I’m wanting to push, curiously sounds like music not of this world … I mean this in the most positive way possible (miserable planet). Gagaku is Japanese court music from the Heian period, roughly a thousand years ago – and to the best of my knowledge is the world’s oldest living orchestral music.

This music seems to have changed little over the span of it’s thousand years and its an odd feeling to be listening to sounds that are a thousand years old. In thinking of classical Japanese music, usually the sparse and austere sound of the koto or shaimsen come to mind. Gagaku shares some of this sense of severe restraint but is also has an immense tonal richness and density; it fact it sounds remarkably modern with its cacophonous drones, again I mean this in the most positive way possible. It is hard to imagine what kind of acoustic instruments could make such a sound. This music is strongly indebted to musical imports from China and Korea at the time and its interesting to compare these works with that of the Korean of the court music, also accessible through Naxos.

I used to feel smug about my gagaku records, they were very difficult to get but now there are four gakaku recordings for you to freely access, all recorded with out sleazy studio augmentation. You can find these recordings in the World/Folk section of the Naxos catalogue, under J for Japan.

Turning Japanese – Fashion on the streets

Gothic and LolitaThere is something appealing about photos of people all dolled up in their finery. In the colourful new book Gothic and Lolita, the style shown is a subculture of teens – in doll-like regalia, Gothic splendour, and any number of idiosyncratic fashion variations.

Fresh FruitsAnother delicious look at Japanese street fashion is Shoichi Aoki’s Fresh Fruits. Coco Chanel said the secret of fashion was to remove one accessory before facing the day – not a piece of advice followed by these fashionistas. Detail, in superabundance, is all.

For more information on Japanese street fashion try The Tokyo look book : stylish to spectacular, goth to gyaru, sidewalk to catwalk by Philomena Keet, and websites such as Tokyo Street style (fashion shots straight from the streets), Japanese Streets and Wikipedia which has a good intro to the style that is Gothic Lolita and Japanese fashion.

Whaling – Current and Historical

into the heart of whalingJapan’s controversial whaling programme is in the news again this week with the whaling fleet’s departure for the Southern waters under the guise of a “scientific expedition”.  The library has several books about whaling and the ongoing struggle to prevent it, such as Harpoon : into the heart of whaling, Troubled waters : the changing fortunes of whales and dolphins, and The whaling season : an inside account of the struggle to stop commercial whaling, or try the International Whaling Commission’s website for more information.

Continue reading