A-bombed cross undergoes preservation work, returns to Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church

by Michiko Tanaka, Staff Writer

On February 10, an “A-bombed cross” which underwent preservation work returned to Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, located in Naka Ward, Hiroshima. The cross was made by joining together pieces of wood that were charred black in the atomic bombing and gathered from the ruins. Because the condition of the wood had deteriorated, the church asked the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, located in the city of Nara, to pursue the preservation work. As a symbol of the church, whose mission includes conveying the A-bomb experience to younger generations and spreading the desire for peace, the cross will be placed in the church’s new prayer room, to be completed on February 15.

The charred surface of the A-bombed cross, measuring two meters long and 1.2 meters wide, had become brittle. The Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, which mostly works with ancient cultural artifacts, began the project last fall by soaking the wood with acrylic resin and performing other procedures. Reverend Hiroshi Okimura, 57, expressed his delight at the completion of the work, saying, “The institute has done a marvelous job restoring the cross.”

Sixty-eight years ago, Nagarekawa Church was located in Kami-nagarekawa-cho (now Teppo-cho, Naka Ward), 900 meters from the hypocenter, and suffered catastrophic damage in the A-bomb blast. In 1952, the church was reconstructed on the same site and served as a base for lending support to A-bomb survivors. The late Reverend Kioyshi Tanimoto played a central role in this support by devoting himself to such efforts as enabling young women who were scarred in the bombing to receive medical treatment in the United States.

The A-bombed cross, which had been stored at the church, was placed at the front of the prayer room in 1995 to mark the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing and help keep alive the memories of that day. In February 2012, when reconstruction work began on the church building, the church consulted with Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum about preserving the cross. The museum, which has relied on the expertise of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties for many years when it comes to its A-bomb artifacts, then asked the institute for its help with the cross. “The A-bombed cross empowers us to continue praying for peace,” Reverend Okimura said. “We want to cherish it forever.” Starting on March 3, visitors to the church can pray before the cross at the rebuilt church.

(Originally published on February 11, 2013)