Anticipation is prior imagination, and the extent of one's capacity to imagine a profound event has important bearing upon the way in which one responds. In the case of Hiroshima's encounter with the atomic bomb, the predominant general tone was that of extreme surprise and unpreparedness. Neither past experience nor immediate perceptions-- the two sources of prior imagination--could encompass what was about to occur. 1
People did, of course, expect conventional bombing. They knew that Japanese cities were being attacked from the air, and they could observe the destructive power of American raids in the devastation of the nearby naval base of Kure. Though wartime censorship kept them from full knowledge of Japan's desperate plight, such things as diminishing food rations and the lull in military activity in their own city were indications that the situation was serious. They also noted the large-scale demolition work underway in Hiroshima, for which thousands of schoolchildren had been recruited, in the effort to create fire lanes to control anticipated conflagration. They wondered when Hiroshima's turn would come.
They were puzzled that virtually no bombs had been dropped on their city, despite its obvious strategic significance as a major staging