Former neighborhood near hypocenter to be restored through computer animation

by Hiromi Morita, Staff Writer

A recording of testimonies from former residents of the Nakajima District, an area of Hiroshima annihilated by the atomic bomb and later transformed into Peace Memorial Park, began on October 20. The recording is being made in conjunction with a project to restore the appearance of the lost neighborhood through the use of computer animation. On the first day, three people who managed to escape the bombing because they were out of town due to work or were mobilized for student labor shared their feelings about their former neighborhood.

Akinori Ueda, 79, a Hiroshima resident, was interviewed by Masaaki Tanabe, 70, the project’s director and a member of its production committee. “It was a nice neighborhood and the people there had good hearts,” Mr. Ueda recalled. “I don’t want a bomb like that to ever be used again.” He also described his memories of the Nakajima District as a very lively part of town as well as his experiences during and after the war.

In June 1945, Mr. Ueda went to Manchuria, in northeastern China, to work and was away when the atomic bomb was dropped. Having lost contact with his family, he returned to Japan in August 1946. He then learned that his family had survived, as they had moved out of the Nakajima District before the bombing due to the dismantling of homes in that area, but many of his close friends were killed.

Mr. Ueda was burdened with guilt over the fact that his family had survived while so many others had not. Because of this guilt, he could not bring himself to attend a ceremony held annually in Peace Memorial Park, to remember the victims of his old neighborhood, until ten years ago. However, when he overheard a tourist mistakenly say that “It was fortunate this area was a quiet park so not many people died here,” he became keenly aware of the importance of conveying the truth. And so he decided to offer his help to Mr. Tanabe’s project.

Mr. Tanabe and his team plan to record the testimonies of 30 people by August 2009. Their goal is to “recreate the appearance of the neighborhood in every detail based on memories of former residents as well as available documents.”

(Originally published on October 21, 2008)

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