Neighborhood lost in the A-bombing to be shown to world—Citizens’ group publishes English version of book of pencil drawings

by Junji Akechi, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima Fieldwork Committee, a Hiroshima-based citizens’ group, has published an English translation of a book titled Kieta Machi: Kioku wo Tadori (Disappeared Towns, Tracing Memories), the group announced at a press conference held at Hiroshima City Hall on August 24. The book is a collection of elaborate pencil drawings that depict the cityscapes of pre-war Hiroshima’s city center before the area was annihilated in the atomic bombing by the U.S. military. The book will be sold at a variety of locations including the Rest House, a building in the Peace Memorial Park that survived the atomic bombing.

The book contains 46 images drawn by Shigeo Moritomi, 91, based on his memories of that time. Mr. Moritomi, an A-bomb survivor living in Hiroshima’s Nishi Ward, grew up in the present-day Otemachi area in the central area of the city and lost five family members in the bombing. The drawings depict cityscapes such as those in the vicinity of the Hiroshima Commercial Exhibition Hall (now the Atomic Bomb Dome). The captions accompanying the drawings capture his childhood memories and experiences of the atomic bombing. All the captions and even the names of the shops depicted in the drawings have been translated into English.

The committee financed publication of the Japanese version of the book in 2011. Mikio Nakagawa, 61, president of the group, said, “From the beginning, we felt we had a responsibility to promote this book to the entire world.” The translation was done by Luli van der Does, associate professor at Hiroshima University’s Center for Peace. Ms. van der Does said, “I struggled with how to translate the pure messages seeking peace into English.” According to the committee, plans are in place to translate the book into four other languages, including French and Korean.

The English version comes with a map that shows the locations depicted in the drawings. The A4-sized book consists of 116 pages and is priced at 2,500 yen. Six hundred copies have been printed. The publication also comes with a plastic folder featuring a scene from the animated film “In This Corner of the World.” For further information, call the committee’s office at: 082-255-1923.

(Originally published on August 25, 2020)