War lingers in uncanny ways. A broken building, a nervous veteran, a change in policy, a footnote in a history textbook – war lingers in the present. Most of these reminders are as common as our own shadows today. It is especially true in Hiroshima. Time for you to learn more about Hiroshima shadows.
August 6, 1945, was meant to be an ordinary day for the citizens of Hiroshima. Many were on their way to the bank. Sumitomo Hiroshima Bank was yet to open when its customer base got wiped out of existence in mere seconds.
All that's left of them, or rather one of them, is a shadow on the steps of the bank—a shadow of the most horrific act of war the world had ever seen. Are you intrigued about how Hiroshima shadows were created? Keep reading and find out all about it!
How Were The Hiroshima Shadows Created?
The Hiroshima shadows are a direct result of the nuclear weapon Little Boy, detonated on that fateful day when World War 2 ended for good. That powerful blast wiped out 62,000 buildings and left a fire that lasted a good six hours, leaving its mark in the most bone-chilling manner.
The heat and light from the fireball were unbelievable. If you're not a person of science, it is almost impossible to fathom the heat and light the nuclear bomb emanated. It was so hot and bright that it left the surrounding 3.5 kilometers bleached instead of burnt.
The unfortunate souls caught in the radius of the bomb acted as shields for the ground behind them, where their shadows would lie. So, with the surrounding land bleached, the shadow of the person remained a dark stain.
It's not just shadows on people that remained. There are reminders of the old Hiroshima in everything from knobs of taps to pavements. Shadows of what was before Little Boy destroyed them all.
Damage Done To The City
The nuclear blasts didn't just hurt the city of Hiroshima; they almost eradicated the city as a whole. A quarter of the population vanished in the aftermath, and a second-quarter died in the following months.
The radius of the blast extended up to 3.5 kilometers and had glass shattering up to 12 kilometers. Even the city hospital, which was the center of the explosion, was destroyed. With radiation poisoning, lack of doctors and medical resources, and 90% of the city flattened to the ground, and it's safe to say the destruction was immense.
Significance Of The Hiroshima Shadows
Many of the Hiroshima shadows have eroded over time. Due to rain, dust, and simple age, many of the shadows no longer exist. It makes the remaining few significant.
The war, not just the massive fireball from the sky, took an enormous toll on the people of Hiroshima. Many will claim that the city rightfully deserved the terrible fate bestowed on them because of the actions of the Japanese in the war. After all, the fighting stopped, didn't it?
However, the toll of the war and the resulting nuclear blast lasted a lot longer than anybody could have imagined. Decades worth of chemicals seeped into the soil, radiation causing deaths years after the explosion and the emotional toll of losing not one but two cities to a terrible weapon of war.
While our history textbooks make Japan a definitive villain, the Hiroshima shadows humanize its citizens. Sure, they committed war crimes, but did they deserve destruction of this magnitude bestowed on them?
The shadows of Hiroshima stand as a memory of the cruelty of war, the genuine impact of weapons, and a reminder of what a human weapon can destroy.
How Many Hiroshima Shadows Are There?
As the years have passed, the shadows of Hiroshima have eroded. They've been swept away by the dust and rain. City officials have encased them in glass or immortalized them with their pictures displayed in museums to preserve the remaining ones.
While the most famous shadow lies on the steps of the former Sumitomo Bank, there are numerous others. Some other well-known shadows include a man with a walking stick, a silhouette of a knob with a wall behind it.
The shadow of the woman on the steps of the bank remains on the most vital. It only remains that important as it is much clearer than any of the others. Over the years, with preservation efforts, it remains more or less intact on the steps.
Where Is The Famous Shadow Now?
The significance of the shadows established it was important to the people to preserve the shadows – especially the most famous one. Despite the eroding and fading, the person's shadow sitting on the bank steps remained extremely well-known.
A part of the step with the shadow was removed and taken to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It rested in its place for over 20 years before being moved into the museum. Now, anybody can see the shadow safely behind its glass. It serves as a reminder of peace after utter destruction.
As a part of the need for peace, the person's identity on the bank steps was tentatively identified. There were multiple sources to provide identity; however, the gruesome part is that any one of those accounts could be true.
There was no identifying body – it is unknown whether it was instantly vaporized or simply moved – and no identifying elements. However, the tentative identity is that of 42-year-old Mitsuno Ochi.
Her story, along with thousands of others, remains plainly visible to everyone who now visits the memorial museum.
Human Shadow Etched In Stone And Other Refections Of The Past
August 6, 1945, shook the world back to its senses but left behind a city with only its shadows. The destruction caused on that fateful day is seeing effects even today. The memories of the war lie in every corner of the reformed country.
The damage apart, the Hiroshima shadows continue to serve as a memory of a terrifying weapon of mass destruction. And, if anybody needed the reminder, one look in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum can remind everyone of the need for peace – lest anybody else ends up as just a shadow on a step.