Haibun: Hiroshima Day

This is a post I wrote a couple of years ago. It still rings true today. I have shortened it a bit and added a video by World Order, a Japanese singing group. I am posting the version with English lyrics so you call can understand the words. Ironically it ends at the beach on which the Fukushima Power Plant stands. The band received special dispensation to go and briefly film some shots there. It shows alternative power sources, the helping of the injured in the tsunami (symbolic) and how in their homage to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “time just stops”.

Hiroshima Day
“We are still living in the aftershock of Hiroshima, people are still the scars of history.” – Edward Bond

America dropped the first of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima. People were going about their normal activities that day. Women were shopping for food to prepare for dinner that night. Children were playing and men were going about their business preparing to continue facing off against the Americans. They went about with living not knowing death was in the skies.

Suddenly the sky turned white and within a few seconds Hiroshima was almost obliterated from the face of the earth. The death toll was approximately 90,000 – 120,000 men, women, and children. Some walked after the blast until they collapsed and died. Others died of burns and being crushed by falling buildings. Skeletons could be seen in the debris. Still later, people died from bone marrow disease from the extreme radiation. A few skeletal structures remained standing, notably the white gate Shinto. “Photos” of people etched into stone by the blast- their bodies obliterated but replaced by the radiation remained. We bear a guilt so deep time will never leach it from our bones as the bomb turned people and buildings, plants, and animals into dust.

children jumping rope
on hot August day – becoming
shadows forever

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Frank J. Tassone
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 16:07:44

    Heartwrenching! The vivid imagery of ordinary life, the pacing, the sudden onslaught of death from above, and the sheer pathos! It is so hard to find any hope in the aftermath of such devastation.

    Reply

  2. sarahsouthwest
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 16:10:00

    Your haiku is one that stops me in my tracks. So powerful. Those photographs speak for themselves.

    Reply

  3. msjadeli
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 17:34:42

    The haiku is like a knife to the heart. Children doomed forever as shadows. Humanity’s evil knows no bounds.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Aug 05, 2019 @ 17:37:31

      No it does not. I saw these shadows in Hiroshima during a trip to Japan. They will rip your heart out

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  4. Glenn A. Buttkus
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 17:50:16

    Nice sense of place and time most. All of us make reference to the bomb shadows
    which seems to be the most dramatic remnant of the event.

    Reply

  5. Sherry Marr
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 22:01:12

    What a cool video. Our guilt as a species weighs me down. I remained irritatingly positive until 2016. My discouragement is now so great, my words are just drying up. Cant take much more. My last shred of hope is for 2020…….your haibun is quite wonderful.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Aug 05, 2019 @ 22:07:41

      Thanks Sherry. I know it is hard. I am so inrelentingly positive. I am down now but I won’t be broken. For your great and grandson’s futures, keep your chin up. Keep your faith in your trees, water, wolves.

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  6. rothpoetry
    Aug 05, 2019 @ 22:06:07

    Horrors of that day will live on forever in the stories told and retold. Very sad commentary on mankind! An interesting video.

    Reply

  7. kim881
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 03:17:49

    The way you’ve contrasted the normality of the day before the atomic bombs were dropped and what happened after is so effective, Toni. Those innocent civilians were not prepared, not warned. The aftermath has endured to remind us of the horror, especially those radiation ‘photos’. Your haiku is heartbreaking.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Aug 06, 2019 @ 06:34:41

      Actually the people were warned. Lesflets were dropped wsrning the people of the event and to surrender. The emperor ordered the leaflets confiscated. A few people saw the leaflers and tried to flee. Some were successful. That is what is so heartbreaking. The emperir ignored the warning, felt he was all powerful and refused to surrender.

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  8. Jane Dougherty
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 04:02:32

    There was wrong on both sides and very little right. No one has the moral ‘right’ to turn a child into a pincushion of shattered glass or burn her to a shadow skipping rope. Only my opinion—the pilot of the bomber was a hero they say.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Aug 06, 2019 @ 06:30:34

      Yeppers. I imagine he lived with a lot of guilt. You seem to have a lot of anger on the subject. I wonder as observers of the event, I wonder how much anger we are entitled to compared to the people we actually harmed.

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      • Jane Dougherty
        Aug 06, 2019 @ 08:25:26

        I heard a radio docu-drama of that day when I was in my teens. It followed one family. It was radio but the images have never left me. It’s true, I do get angry about suffering. Not sure you have to be directly affected to feel it in your gut.
        I read the wikipedia entry about the pilot. It doesn’t sound as though guilt was a problem for him. He did a reenactment for an air show in Texas in the 1970s complete with mushroom cloud effect.

        Reply

  9. lillian
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 10:22:50

    Oh Toni….your writing is so powerful here. Humans reduced to shadows in one horrifying flash.
    And thank you for posting the video. I watched it through…what an amazing group this is. Their movements are so precise….robotic….meaningful in so many places.
    I am really moved by this post. And having visited Hiroshima….that day, even with many in the museum…with our tour guide outside…everyone just automatically spoke in hushed tones. A sacred place. And today there will be many there to pray and hope for lasting world peace. There is an “eternal flame” in the peace garden….and when you stand in front of its structure, you can see through the space it encircles and it leads directly to the point on the river and bridge that was the intended spot of impact: a naturally formed T that was the target. And when you lift your head and look to your right, you see the horrifying remains and shell of a building where people bustled about on that day…it is now called the Atomic Dome and is the only thing still standing. Such horror we wage on one another in any war…on both sides. But this….this…..
    We were told the “flame” will only be extinguished when there is everlasting world peace. Do you think that is in humanity’s future?

    Reply

  10. Ali Grimshaw
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 11:01:56

    Beyond sad but so very important to not forget. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  11. revivedwriter
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 15:33:50

    This is haunting.

    Reply

  12. Kestril Trueseeker
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 15:45:16

    I can’t imagine the horror the survivors felt, both in living through the attack and in the hellscape that surrounded them afterwards. I fear we haven’t learned very much since those days.

    Reply

  13. sanaarizvi
    Aug 06, 2019 @ 15:49:38

    My goodness this is absolutely heartwrenching 😥😥

    Reply

  14. thotpurge
    Aug 07, 2019 @ 05:12:06

    I have visited the Hiroshima memorial at it is absolutely heartbreaking… Makes you think hard about people who still think nuclear weapons are a necessary option. Why!

    Reply

  15. Sumana Roy
    Aug 07, 2019 @ 07:32:02

    A very powerful Haibun, Toni. This is how the power-intoxicated humans behave and how the rest suffers. What a shame! Such beings are still living and their attempt to strangle the planet is equally abominable.

    Reply

  16. kaykuala h
    Aug 08, 2019 @ 15:46:01

    It was a horrendous experience of what had not been seen before. Those who released the bombs from the plane had stories of the conscience they carried, but none been said of those who ordered it. Now the danger of nuclear war is still there but what stops it is because none will survive including those who order it. Great haibun Toni!

    Hank

    Reply

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