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Piano that survived Hiroshima A-bomb to play at Nobel Peace Prize event in Oslo

Mitsunori Yagawa looks down at a piano scarred by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, in the city's Asaminami Ward on Dec. 1, 2017. (Mainichi)

A piano once hit with the flash of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima will be played at a concert to be held after the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo, Norway on Dec. 10.

The so-called "hibaku (A-bombed) piano" is owned by second-generation A-bomb survivor, or "hibakusha," Mitsunori Yagawa, a 65-year-old piano tuner living in Hiroshima's Asaminami Ward. He hopes that "by having the world hear the sound unchanged from 72 years ago, it will make them consider nuclear issues with more familiarity" through the Oslo performance.

The concert is planned for Dec. 11 and will be put on by the Nobel Prize Committee. Akira Kawasaki, a member of the international steering group for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a prize recipient, suggested the performance and asked Yagawa to play.

The piano owned by Yagawa was made in 1938 by a predecessor of today's Yamaha Corp. and was found in a residence in Ujina, now part of Hiroshima's Minami Ward. Having been only 3 kilometers from the center of the blast, the piano's sides are scarred from flying shards of glass. Yagawa began playing the piano scarred by the bomb at recitals all over Japan after it was brought to the piano repair studio run out of his home 20 years ago. So far, Yagawa has tuned and held at least a hundred recitals with the piano.

In addition to the piano that will be used during the concert, Yagawa has collected five "hibaku pianos." Each of them has been restored using as many of the original parts as possible in order to "convey the atmosphere at the time and the memories of the people who played them."

Yagawa's father, who had experienced the bomb near the epicenter, never once spoke about it during his life. Many of the piano donors also placed their hopes in the instruments to continue telling their experiences once they were gone. This led Yagawa to feel that tuning and playing the pianos was a peace movement that only he could undertake.

"Even in Oslo, I want the piano to overcome the barriers of the listeners' hearts and deliver a message of peace," Yagawa says.

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