Praying for the Departed

The atomic bombing took many thousands of lives. Those left behind struggled with grief over the deaths of their loved ones. Memorial towers and monuments were built to assist the mourning and prayers for the deceased. The first to appear were simple wooden structures.

Grave of Thousands on Ninoshima Island

On Ninoshima Island a temporary field hospital was set up and an estimated 10,000 people who had been wounded in the bombing were housed there. Many of these people died after treatment had no effect. Around August 25, 1945, staff of the military quarantine held a memorial service, and a marker with 'Grave of Thousands' written in ink was erected on the shore.
October 16-17 Ninoshima Island Approximately 10km from the hypocenter
Taken by Shunkichi Kikuchi Courtesy of Tokuko Kikuchi

Peace Tower and Motoyasugawa River

A monument called the 'Peace Tower' was temporarily erected in the area that is currently known as Peace Memorial Park. Human bones still remained on the river bed of Motoyasugawa River in the front of the photograph.
1948 Nakajima-hon-machi 120-280m from the hypocenter
Taken by Yuichiro Sasaki Courtesy of Yugo Shioura

Memorial tower erected near A-bomb Dome

1952 Sarugaku-cho 160m from the hypocenter
Taken by Yuichiro Sasaki Courtesy of Yugo Shioura


On September 22, the 49th day after the atomic bombing, a joint funeral service was held in Kogo-minami-machi. What were people thinking about the atomic bombing and Japan's defeat? Donated by Kakuyu Yasumitsu
In holding this joint funeral service today, the 49th day, we cannot help but recall that tragic and unfortunate day of August 6. The enemy dropped the world's first atomic bomb on our Hiroshima. In an instant Hiroshima was transformed into a town of death and ash, and completely massacred in a stroke hundreds of thousands of our defenseless, innocent families. Hiroshima, with its noble traditional culture, was razed to the ground without leaving a single tree or blade of grass, and both Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City ceased to function.
     Even today, many people are losing their precious lives, suffering from rotting wounds and internal organ illnesses caused by the poison that was emitted at the same time as the fierce heat rays. How tragic this is!
     Just after 8am is generally the time when people are starting their morning activities. Everyone has arrived at their office and is cheerfully going about their work. The enemy cannot hide the fact that they chose this time and this place. Those who escaped immediate death fled to their homes, burnt, their skin hanging off them, bones broken, covered in blood, exposed to the black rain, in a state where they no longer looked like human beings. Only a few of these people healed ? most of them died, one after the other. There were people who finally reached their home and then passed away in the care of their families, people who returned to their homes as corpses, people who never returned home at all. Our tears flow uncontrollably with the heart-wrenching thoughts of these people. We cannot imagine what their families are going through, and words cannot express our pity.
     The rain that has been falling for almost a month continues to fall today, and the damage from the rains is said to be worse than last year. The series of misfortunes continues.
     If the atomic bomb attacks had continued, Japan would surely have been destroyed. The Emperor made the decision to end the war. For us, the survivors, we must bear the hardships, do our best to serve our country, and work to compensate all those who lost their lives in the war. I pray that they rest in peace.
     These are some of my thoughts on this day, and I offer them in prayer to the souls of the departed.
Let us join hands in prayer
September 22, 1945
*Document entries have been changed to modern script and summarized where appropriate.

Hiroshima, 1945

−A-bomb Damage Revealed in Photographs−