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

eResources

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

Beautiful Burlap

I need a hobby. A creative hobby. I am feeling the “desire to be a clothing designer or an artist (one who doesn’t draw or paint or sew)” to quote Heidi Julavits in The Folded Clock: A Diary.

Cover of The Origami HomeThe library seems the logical place to look for inspiration to set me on my true creative path. But I don’t think just taking books home and being daunted by them will do it.

The Origami Home – exquisite but, honestly, the instructions. “Fold the left, right and lower edges in. At the same time, fold in the corners (a).” At the same time? Are you joking me?

So no to origami miniature design furniture.

Cover for Burlap BoutiqueBurlap could be the answer to my hobby needs. Beautiful Burlap: Cute Accessories to Create and Stitch and Burlap Boutique: Charming Accent Wreaths and Home Decor. ‘Cute’ and ‘charming’ – a bit off-putting, but my front door is worryingly bereft of an accent wreath and burlap sounds more forgiving than origami paper. Also it is a very pleasing word. Burlap. Much better than Hessian. Or Sacking. Are they the same thing? On to the For Later shelf they go.

Cover of Viktor Wynd's Cabinet of WondersA recent mover from the For Later List to the In Progress shelf provides some hope that I can become creative with very little effort. Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders has thrilling chapters such as “The Collector as Artist”, and its even better companion “On the Joys of Mess”. Apparently finding and installing is as creative as actually making.

According to good old Viktor, “Collecting as an art form in in its own right is rarely given much thought.” So endless fossicking through every second-hand shop that presents itself is creative. Who knew?

I’m still going to investigate the burlap though.