War through the Eyes of Children

With the Help of Barefoot Gen

Reopening Schools

The war ended on August 15, 1945, but evacuated children were unable to return to their schools for some time. In the A-bomb chaos, students slowly returned to their national elementary schools, but some schools did not retrieve all their evacuated pupils until December.

Most of the schools located within 2 km of the hypocenter had completely destroyed. Those that had lost their buildings made every effort to resume classes in spaces borrowed from other schools or other serviceable buildings. Some schools held classes outdoors in the burnt-out ruins. Nevertheless, most national elementary schools resumed instruction in September or October 1945.

Wartime militaristic education was denounced, and the curriculum was altered to teach democratic principles. Schools used suminuri textbooks, in which descriptions of the war were redacted with black charcoal ink. Japanese History, Geography, Martial Arts and other war-oriented classes were suspended. In April 1947, “national elementary schools” became “elementary schools” in accordance with a new School Education Act.

Open-air class

Schools which had lost their buildings in the A-bombing gave lessons outdoors or by borrowing other schools’ classrooms. With its building having completely collapsed, Noboricho National Elementary School also resumed classes in the burned site where the school had been.
June 1946 Nobori-cho
Courtesy of Noboricho Elementary School

Blacked out (suminuri) textbooks (reproduced)

After the end of the war, as militaristic aspects were removed from school education, details of textbooks also had to be modified by being partly crossed out with ink. Classes such as Japanese History, Geography and Martial Arts, which had been given during the war, were suspended.
Collection of Hiroshima City Cultural Promotion Division

Classes resumed in a school building with no windowpanes or ceiling.

From Barefoot Gen-Out of the Ashes, Last Gasp of San Francisco, 2005, translated by Project Gen

War through the Eyes of Children

With the Help of Barefoot Gen