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Not exactly news ...

Postby Penta » Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:29 am

... but something to be remembered. It's 6th August.

Yosuke Yamahata was 28 years old and working for the Japanese News Information Bureau in August 1945. Along with Eiji Yamada, a painter, and Jun Higashi, a writer, he was dispatched to devastated Nagasaki by the Japanese military just hours after Fat Man exploded and instructed to "photograph the situation so as to be as useful as possible for military propaganda."

Their train arrived at the outskirts of the ruined city in the middle of the night. Here's how Yamahata describes the scene: "I remember vividly the cold night air and the beautiful starry sky... A warm wind began to blow. Here and there in the distance I saw many small fires, like elf fires, smoldering. Nagasaki had been completely destroyed." By the time the sun rose, Yamahata had made his way to the center of what was no longer a city. As the day went on, he retraced his steps, along the way taking photographs of the carnage and destruction until he was back at the train station.

All in all, he took 119 photographs that day, capturing some of the most haunting and enduring images of the atomic age. In one, a bloodied boy holding a rice ball stares, his head covered with an air raid hood (a dark cloth that the Japanese military handed out to civilians telling them it would protect them from American bombs); in another, an exhausted-looking woman nurses a badly burnt baby.

In almost every image, the ground is littered with burnt bodies and unattached limbs, household items, rubble, and timbers. As he walked through the missing city, people cried out for water or for help uncovering bodies buried in the rubble. "It is perhaps unforgiveable," reflected Yamahata, "but in fact at the time I was completely calm and composed. In other words, perhaps it was just too much, too enormous to absorb." Returning to Tokyo, Yamahata took advantage of the general confusion that surrounded the Japanese surrender to the Americans and managed to hold on to his negatives, rather than turning them over to his superiors.

A handful of his images were published in Japanese newspapers at the end of August 1945, before the American army arrived and the U.S. occupation began. In October 1945, occupation authorities imposed a ban on photographing the atomic sites and on the publication of all atomic-related stories (and the images that went with them). Most of Yamahata's photographs from Nagasaki were not seen until 1952, after Japan was once again an independent nation and Life Magazine published a few of his Nagasaki photos. That same year almost all the Nagasaki photographs were published in Japan under the title: Atomized Nagasaki: The Bombing of Nagasaki, A Photographic Record. The book includes sketches by Eiji Yamada and an essay by Jun Higashi, his two companions in Nagasaki that day.

In the introduction, Yamahata wrote: "Human memory has a tendency to slip and critical judgment to fade with the years and with changes in life style and circumstance… These photographs will continue to provide us with an unwavering testimony to the realities of that time."


http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175102/ ... t_too_soon
http://www.exploratorium.edu/nagasaki/j ... rney4.html
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