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Life in Hiroshima - before the bomb

July 6, 2017


Replicated film shows daily life in Hiroshima before A-bomb








The Hacchobori district of Hiroshima is shown in a silent 16 mm film that has been digitally replicated. (Provided by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)


HIROSHIMA--Women in kimono strolling across a street and smiling children in school uniforms are featured in a digitally replicated 16 mm film that shows bustling downtown Hiroshima before an atomic bomb destroyed the city.


The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum here on July 5 uploaded the ultra-high 4K resolution video, which runs three minutes and nine seconds, on its website.


The silent, black and white footage shows people in row boats on the Motoyasugawa river, which later became filled with bodies and lined with people desperate for water after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945.


The video also shows the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, which became the A-Bomb Dome, a haunting symbol of the devastation wrought on the city.


“The film brings back memories of the days when I rowed boats and went fishing on the Motoyasugawa river,” said Tokuso Hamai, 82.


Hamai’s father ran a barber shop at their home in Hiroshima’s Nakajimahonmachi district, the busiest part of the city, during the war.


The Nakajimahonmachi area was ground zero for the nuclear blast. The district is now home to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.


Hamai had been evacuated from the city before the bomb exploded. But all of his family members--his parents, elder sister and elder brother--were killed.


Looking at the film, Hamai said, “It was such a peaceful time for me.”


A 2016 anime hit, “Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni” (In This Corner of the World), depicts the Nakajimahonmachi district before the war.


But Genjiro Kawasaki had actual footage of the area in the 1930s, and he donated the film to the museum in 1963. Kawasaki survived the atomic bombing but died in 1995.


The museum in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward teamed up with Imagica West Corp., an Osaka-based visual production company, to digitally replicate the film. The process took about one month to complete.


The images were sharpened using advanced technology to clearly show the citizens’ facial expressions and clothing.


The numbers on streetcars are now discernible, as well as titles on movie theater signboards in the Hacchobori shopping and entertainment district in the city center. The films included the U.S. movie “One Night of Love” and “Seishun Ondo” (Youth beat).


Initially, Kawasaki was believed to have shot the film in 1936. But after comparing details in the film with newspapers of that time, the joint team identified the shooting dates of around April 3 and 4, 1935.


Most of the museum’s 70,000 photographic materials show the Hiroshima cityscape and victims after the atomic bombing.


Museum officials plan to ask the public for materials that show what life was like in Hiroshima before the bomb exploded. They said such materials are essential historical records that highlight what was lost in the atomic bombing.


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