Thursday, June 11, 2015

"70 years after WWII / Unretouched photos show A-bomb devastation"

Image borrowed from Pressing Issues. The Japan News (print version) caption for this image reads: This photo titled "Onigiri o motsu oyako" was taken by photographer Yosuke Yamahata on Aug. 10, 1945, a day after the atomic bombing of Nakasaki.

Story from The Japan News, 6/10/15.

A photo exhibition to be held this summer in Tokyo will display 60 photographs taken shortly after the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, showing the catastrophic effects of the bombings.

The August exhibition, titled “Shitte imasuka Hiroshima Nagasaki no Genshi Bakudan” (Do you know about the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?), will display 60 photographs taken within three months after the bombings. The photos — with spots, shadows and air bubbles left unretouched — vividly show how devastating the bombing damage was, while at the same time illustrating the poor state of photo processing amid desperate material shortages.

One of photos to be exhibited is titled “Miyukibashi Nishizume” and shows Hiroshima people, including a schoolgirl, being rescued in an area close to Ground Zero on Aug. 6, 1945. The photo was taken by Yoshito Matsushige, a photographer of The Chugoku Shimbun, a local newspaper. Matsushige died in 2005.

The unretouched photo has black beltlike shadows on both sides, reflecting the fact that the catastrophic damage caused by the bomb also eliminated photo laboratories. Matsushige was said to have developed the negative in a small river in the darkness of night several days after the bombing, and the poor conditions he worked under apparently caused the shadows on the negative.

Another photo, titled “Onigiri o motsu oyako” (A mother and her child holding rice balls in their hands) was taken on Aug. 10, 1945, in Nagasaki — a day after the atomic bombing there — by Yosuke Yamahata, a photographer who belonged to the Imperial Japanese Army. Yamahata died in 1966. The negative for this photo has a large dark spot, scratches and air bubbles.

Yamahata, who arrived in Nagasaki early in the morning of that day, later recalled that many people were asking for help, but he could do nothing but photograph the bombed areas while being frustrated over his inability to help.

When the photos were displayed in past exhibitions, they were retouched and trimmed. However, for the exhibition this year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, the organizer decided not to modify the photos as it believes their poor condition provides important information about the conditions of the cities shortly after the bombings. The organizer of the exhibition is the Japan Professional Photographers Society.

The admission-free exhibition will be held from Aug. 4 to 30 at the JCII Photo Salon in the Ichibancho district of Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Closed on Mondays)


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