Vintage photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki from LIFE


Tomorrow is the 65th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. In honor of that, Life Magazine has posted photos from the immediate aftermath taken by its photographers who were on the ground around that time. As they point out in a 1945 article:

20 men and one woman [all LIFE photographers] spent a total of 13,000 days outside the U.S., of which half the days and nights were spent in combat zones…. [Five] were wounded in action, two were torpedoed … and about a dozen contracted malaria, sometimes complicated by dysentery and dengue fever.” No fewer than five of those photographers spent time in Nagasaki, Hiroshima, or both, in the late summer and fall of 1945.


The Sun, a documentary about WW2 Emperor Hirohito


Emperor Hirohito is the subject of a new Russian film that’s showing in New York City right now, called The Sun. I have not seen it, nor do I know much about it, but it sounds it could be interesting for those who have a fascination with Japan before, during, and after WW2.

By the way, the best book that explains how Japan changed after WW2 is Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II by John Dower. Read it now if you haven’t already.

My favorite movie about this era is a documentary by famed filmmaker Kazuo Hara called Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On — it chronicles the journey of one WW2 vet whose mission is to get soldiers to atone for crimes committed during the war, many years later.

Related stories:
Wings of Defeat: a documentary about kamikaze pilots
New uncensored HBO documentary on Hiroshima

46 years ago today: a coal mining accident and train wreck kill 600 spotlights two tragedies that happened on Nov 9, 1963: industrial accidents that killed more than 600 people in one day.

The first accident occurred at the Miike coal mine between Omuta and Arao. Ten mining carts loaded with coal were being hauled to the surface at around 3:12 in the afternoon. One of the chains linking the carts together severed and sent eight of them careening out of control to the bottom of mine. The carts traveled nearly 400 yards and hit speeds of 73 mph before crashing….As if that weren’t enough, several hundred miles away in Yokohama, a deadly three-train railroad crash had occurred.

This day in tech []

Japanese full names used to be super long

Fl20091011x1b My mother sent me an interesting article published in The Japan Times earlier this month that digs up the origins of Japanese first and last names. Japanese names used to be super long back in the pre-Meiji period, including clan name, birth order, two ancient titles, and a personal name. The first name-last name simplified combo is only a century or so old.

The story also comes with a fun sidebar that lists the 10 most common Japanese last names. Can you guess what they are? I’ll post the answers on Monday.


Designer Issey Miyake shares his experience as an atomic bomb survivor

ImagesFashion designer Issey Miyake wrote an amazing op-ed in Monday’s New York Times about having survived Hiroshima. I did not know he was a nuclear bomb survivor &mdash I don’t think that many did, in fact, he says in his piece that he deliberately buried this part of his past because he didn’t want to be remembered as the designer who survived the atomic bomb. He finally decided to come out in this op-ed to encourage President Obama to follow through on his pledge to rid the world of nuclear weapons:

I have never chosen to share my memories or thoughts of that day. I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to put them behind me, preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy. I gravitated toward the field of clothing design, partly because it is a creative format that is modern and optimistic.

Link (Thanks, Gen!)

14-year old boy builds Jomon period home, hopes to live in it

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Shogo Kasai is a cool 14-year old boy living in Yamanashi Prefecture. He’s cool because he’s really into archaeology, so much so that he dug a pit in his backyard and made a semi-subterranean straw house that resembled Jomon period architecture. He consulted archaeology books and museum officials and built it out of bamboo and rice straw. Then, in October, he gave up the comfort of his bedroom for a night and spent it in his hut, even cooking himself a eal of shiitake soup—a Jomon period dish—on a charcoal fire. His next step? To make some Jomon period clothes and actually start living in there, at least for several weeks at a time.


List of nearly 6,000 dead POWs found in Washington

A research organization dedicated to honoring the Japanese war dead found a full list of Japanese POWs who died in captivity at the hands of Americans. The list included 5,979 soldiers and military workers; it was collecting dust at the National Archives in Washington, DC. The list, created in 1952, had each deceased’s name, rank, prisoner number, date of death, cause of death, and place of burial. The organization hopes to recover the remains of the war dead, which are scattered all over the world (Hawaii, Indonesia, Okinawa, the Philippines) on US military territory, back to their families in Japan.


Related stories:
Dear Miye: Radio show about a Nisei woman during WW2

Occupation-era letters found in Nebraska bookstore
Wings of Defeat: A documentary about living kamikaze pilots

(For more background on post-WW2 Japan, read Embracing Defeat, by MIT historian John Dower.)