Light and Shadow of Reconstruction

The light from the reconstruction project did not shine on all places and people alike. People who happened to be in the shadows had to live for a long time in grinding poverty in a corner of an urban area. Sasaki's photographs remind us of the fact that there was a problem like this under the Peace Memorial City Construction Endeavors process.

Revival of Downtown Area

The shopping streets located at the center of the city suffered catastrophic damage due to the A-bombing. In Hondori Shopping Street, land adjustment began to be implemented in August 1947, and the street was widened from 6 meters to 11 meters. During the period 1949 to 1952, the environmental improvement of this street showed progress with utility poles along the street being removed, and Kinzagai Street, along with Shintenchi, began to fully prosper, with abundant merchandise appearing on the market. Even in their financially tight daily lives, people sought cultural events and entertainment. The best example of this entertainment were cinemas that could be enjoyed at relatively inexpensive prices.

Families of soldiers of occupation forces walking along Hondori Shopping Street

Hirataya-cho (now, Hondori)

Stores began standing side by side along widened Hondori. However, very few people could afford to enjoy shopping. Women, probably family members of the allied occupation forces' soldiers, are seen walking and shopping. Their elegant outfits drew the attention of surrounding people.

Hirogoku Shopping Street

Ote-machi 2-chome (now, Kamiya-cho 2-chome)

In 1948, a new T-shaped shopping district called "Hirogoku" was completed near the west end of Hondori. This photograph was taken from the entrance of Hondori looking north. In 1972, this shopping district became Sunmall.

Hondori Shopping Street regains a lively atmosphere

Hirataya-cho (now, Hondori)

Hondori Shopping Street began looking like a downtown area with many signs crowding each other. One of the buildings in this photograph is under reconstruction. Looking at their clothing and facial expressions, shoppers seem to be relaxed and enjoying life.

Movie signs and waterlogged roads

Hatchobori (now, Ebisu-cho)

View of Streetcar Street in front of the movie theater, Toyo-za. When it rained, a huge pond-like puddle formed. In the movie theater, the much-talked-about musical "Singin' in the Rain" was onscreen, but people were brought back to earth when they stepped outside and saw the harsh reality of the reconstruction.