Debris believed to be from former A-bomb Dome building recovered from adjacent river

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

On January 22, stone debris believed to be from the building now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome, a World Heritage site, was recovered from the Motoyasu River using heavy machinery. The Motoyasu River flows beside the dome. Rebun Kayo, 35, a resident of Nishi Ward and a graduate student at Hiroshima University, discovered these stones at the riverbed last June.

Five people, including Mr. Kayo and professors from Hiroshima University, took part in the recovery effort. Using a crane, they raised two pieces of granite from the river. The larger stone is a rectangular parallelepiped, 100 centimeters long, 55 centimeters wide, and 25 centimeters high. It weighs about 300 kilograms. Chips of red brick and mortar that were used to bind construction blocks still adhere to some parts of the surface. The other stone is in the shape of a triangular prism. It is 30 centimeter tall and weighs about 100 kilograms. On the surface of both stones are decorative grooves.

Judging from the results of on-site inspections of the dome to date, and historical photographs, Mr. Kayo thinks these stones were part of eaves on the third floor of the building and were blown off by the A-bomb blast. The debris will be exhibited at Hiroshima University’s Institute of History of Medicine, in Minami Ward, and Mr. Kayo hopes, “I would like a lot of people to touch these stones and reflect on what happened.”

In spare moments from work and school, Mr. Kayo has continued his pursuit of roof tiles and glass fragments from riverbeds, among other artifacts, that were melted in the A-bomb heat. He then donates these items to universities and museums overseas. Last August, he began gathering stone debris believed to be from the A-bomb Dome building. Mr. Kayo said that he intends to continue his research to confirm his impressions of the stones just recovered.

(Originally published on January 23, 2014)