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Late master painter Hirayama's 'mushroom cloud' drawing gets first exhibit

The late Ikuo Hirayama's drawing of what appears to be the mushroom cloud from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima is seen on display at the museum of his works in the western Japanese city of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, on Aug. 6, 2018. (Mainichi)

ONOMICHI, Hiroshima -- A drawing by late master Japanese painter Ikuo Hirayama of what looks to be the mushroom cloud from the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 is on display for the first time at the Hirayama Ikuo Museum of Art in this western Japanese city.

The drawing, apparently created sometime between the mid-1960s and the early 1970s based on his experience of the bombing, shows a black plume of smoke rising into the air in a mushroom shape. The painting using traditional sumi ink on paper carries an inscription that says, "Omou Showa 20 nen 8 gatsu 6 ka" ("Thinking Aug. 6 in the 20th year of Showa," or 1945). The work was donated to the museum by the family of the painter's close friend, whose name was left in the upper left corner of the paper.

Hirayama experienced the atomic bombing at an Imperial Japanese Army workshop about 3 kilometers from the hypocenter on Aug. 6, 1945, when he was a third-year student at the Shudo middle school in Hiroshima. "It was like hell outside," he was later quoted as saying.

According to museum head Sukenari Hirayama, Hirayama rarely drew his atomic bombing experience. "I think he didn't even make it public that he had painted a mushroom cloud," he said.

Hirayama, famous for his paintings themed on Silk Road landscapes, passed away in 2009 at age 79.

(Japanese original by Naoki Fuchiwaki, Onomichi Local Bureau)

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