Quiet Objects and Loud History | Nagasaki & Hiroshima


The bones of a hand in glass
Found near the hypocenter. The bones of a human hand are stuck to a clump of glass that melted as a result of exposure to the extreme heat | Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.

There are impossible things to say. The object above, along with this matter of fact description, stood quietly, alone in an unassuming cabinet in the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I watched as people easily missed it and looked at more confronting images of burnt bodies and of the devastated clearing that Nagasaki had become. In its understated horror, this object for me, spoke so much more.

It is difficult to understand those days in which the bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I went to these two cities with little expectation that I would come away with my own understanding of those events. Over the last week I visited the Peace Memorials, Museums, parks and halls of both those cities, waiting to see how the Japanese had reconciled that history.

The museums present information about the seconds after the atomic explosions, information documented by both the Americans and the Japanese who were keen to understand the effects of this new type of bomb. Studies continue today into the effects of the explosions and the exposure of radiation. Survivors are still presenting to doctors with glass shards working their way out of their bodies. The sheer physics of the event is only understood through the objects presented and the personal stories of the survivors, both devastating.

The results are that both cities are now committed to peace and the abolition of all nuclear weapons.