Academic journal article The Oral History Review

From Atomic Fragments to Memories of the Trinity Bomb: A Bridge of Oral History over the Pacific

Academic journal article The Oral History Review

From Atomic Fragments to Memories of the Trinity Bomb: A Bridge of Oral History over the Pacific

Article excerpt

Abstract This paper first introduces the background of the making of Memories of the Trinity Bomb, a Japanese documentary film based on the book Atomic Fragments: A Daughter's Questions, authored by Mary Palevsky. Yoshihiko Muraki, an independent filmmaker, revealed his unique approach in filming the spiritual journey of Mary, a daughter of the Manhattan Project scientists, in her search of the true meaning of the atomic bomb. While the documentary primarily focused on the narratives of Mary Palevsky and several Project scientists, this paper introduces Japanese perspectives on the film through interviews with Japanese viewers varying both in generation and background. Through this endeavor, the paper explores the meaning of this trans-media as well as transnational collaboration on the topic of the atomic bomb, which remains at the crossroads of history and personal memories.

These Children's Summer--1945 Hiroshima, Nagasaki

   It's far too
   merciless.
   Spirits,
   who have long since
   been buried and forgotten.
   Spirits,
   Neglected.
   It's far too
   merciless.
   On a night of the crooked moon,
   Come visit in ghostly attire
   To talk to your mother.
   With our backs together, we'll talk.
   "For Those Without Voices"
   --Kazuko Yamada

The poem written by Kazuko Yamada is projected onto the screen on stage, where the reading of These Children's Summer--1945 Hiroshima, Nagasaki is about to begin. (1) Since the first reading performance in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, on July 5, 1985, These Children's Summer has been performed 621 times in 339 cities, towns, and villages throughout Japan. In addition to these readings by six actresses from a professional theater company, 2,147 readings have been performed by the local initiative of amateur readers in the past twelve years. These numbers tell us that the reading of These Children's Summer is performed somewhere in Japan almost every other day. Internationally, readings took place in Amsterdam, Paris, and U.S. cities such as Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Santa Fe and Los Alamos, New Mexico. (2)

On the stage, six actresses take turns reading the oral records of the survivors of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki--the voices of the boys, girls, and their mothers who witnessed their loved ones suffer and die of the blast. This is a requiem for the dead in the form of a reading. It is intended to hammer home the "no more Hiroshima" sentiment and to reaffirm a solid pledge to peace among viewers. Two originally planned performances in Tokyo's Asahi Hall on Hiroshima Memorial Day and the day after in summer 2002 sold out and the company added three more readings to accommodate eager requests. Audiences varied in age and gender, and a large group of high school students sat behind me when I went to see it on Hiroshima Day. The ninety minutes of these readings were emotionally charged. The viewers mourned and cried for the boys and girls, victims who died a cruel death.

Every summer, the Japanese collectively mourn for the deceased on Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day reaffirming a pledge to peace. This reading is one of many different ways in which they mourn. Since 1945, not one summer has passed without this national ritual. The toll of casualties in Japanese cities, including the capital city of Tokyo, by conventional bombs towards the end of the war was as devastating as the atomic bombs. But the massiveness of this newly created nuclear weapon and its radioactive aftereffects, which still torture the survivors of the atomic bomb, have haunted the Japanese minds ever since. The prolonged physical agony of the victims and the obsession of the Japanese people never seem to come to an end. Each summer, we are reminded that the Japanese were the first and only victims of the atomic bomb.

From Trinity To Trinity--A Message from a Hibakusha Novelist

Novelist Kyoko Hayashi won the prestigious Hiroshi Noma Literary Award of 2000 with her literary memoir entitled The Human Experience of Long Time Being Spent. …

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