Peace Museum exhibits items, including calligraphy and roof tile piece, related to those missing in A-bombing, conveying suffering of bereaved families

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is now holding an exhibition on the first floor of its east building titled “Still Missing,” which displays items linked with five A-bomb victims who have been missing since the atomic bombing by the U.S. military. The exhibit conveys the pain and agony of the bereaved families, who donated their loved ones’ objects that became remembrances, under a situation in which their remains have yet to be discovered. The exhibition, admission to which is free of charge, will be on display until the end of September.

Eleven items are exhibited, including calligraphy work done by Yoko Nakamura while she was alive that had been cared for by her family over the years. Ms. Nakamura, then 12, was a first-year student at Hiroshima First Municipal Girls’ School (now Funairi High School, in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward) who went missing after experiencing the atomic bombing when mobilized to engage in the demolition of buildings to create fire lanes in the central area of Hiroshima as part of the war effort. All of the articles on display are part of the museum’s collection.

The roof tile piece, one of the other displayed items, was picked up by the late Kato Hamada, the mother of Teruyo Hamada, who was 21 at the time of the bombing and went missing after going to a bank located near the hypocenter for her work. Kato is said to have walked around searching frantically for her daughter, found the piece of tile near Teruyo’s office, and kept it as remembrance of her.

The tile piece was donated to the museum by the late Heitaro Hamada, Teruyo’s younger brother. In his written notes, Heitaro described his family’s sorrow regarding his sister. “(Searching for Teruyo), my mother on her own went to all the shelters and evacuation camps in the city, but came up empty handed in terms of information about her,” wrote Heitaro.

Eiji Ito, 69, a resident of Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, who was visiting Hiroshima on business, looked intently at the exhibition. “It’s surprising that so many people are still missing. I became aware once again how extensive was the damage from the atomic bombing,” said Mr. Ito.

(Originally published on July 3, 2021)