High school students complete paintings which depict experiences of A-bomb survivors

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

Five second- and third-year students in the Creative Expression Course at Motomachi High School, located in downtown Hiroshima, have completed paintings which depict the experiences of A-bomb survivors. The three survivors who shared their experiences with the students were invited to a ceremony at the school on July 1 to see the finished paintings.

Katsufumi Shintaku, 87, a resident of Naka Ward, Mitsuo Kodama, 80, of Minami Ward, and Sadae Kasaoka, 80, of Higashi Ward, related their A-bomb accounts to the five students in four sessions held at the high school between December 2012 and June 2013. The students then created oil paintings, on canvases measuring 65 by 53 centimeters, which show scenes they had found particularly moving.

Miri Takeshige, 16, painted scores of bodies being loaded onto a truck based on Mr. Shintaku’s description of a scene near the hypocenter that he witnessed the day after the bombing. The second-year student said, “It really happened, the fact that so many people lost their lives. When I was painting, I often stopped to think about how Mr. Shintaku felt at the time.” Seeing her finished work, Mr. Shintaku said, “Her painting fully expresses the horror of nuclear weapons.”

The works of the five students will be displayed during the school’s cultural festival on July 6. After the festival, the paintings will be held at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and used when Mr. Shintaku and other survivors give their A-bomb accounts.

The program of students painting A-bomb images was launched by Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in fiscal 2004 with a view to conveying the survivors’ experiences to younger generations. Students at Motomachi High School have been taking part in the program since 2007. To date, 68 paintings have been produced with the cooperation of 32 survivors.

(Originally published on July 2, 2013)