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Younger generation continues legacy of Hiroshima activism with multimedia projects

The VR headset used to explore the virtual rendering of Hiroshima before and after the bomb is seen in action on June 8, 2019, at Fukuyama technical high school in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)
Students at Yasuda Women's University are seen with 3D models of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall, now the Atomic Bomb Dome, which were used to make 360 degree photographs of its interior, in Asaminami Ward, Hiroshima on July 1, 2019. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)
The original black and white image is seen in this provided photo.
Students from Hiroshima Municipal Funairi High School are seen rehearsing a play about the late Toshiko Saiki, who cleaned the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound for 40 years after she was affected by the bombing. The play was performed at the International Conference Center Hiroshima's Phoenix Hall on Aug. 6, 2019. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)
Anju Niwata, right, is seen with former Nakajima district resident Tokusou Hamai, left in both images, as they stand with a colorized photo of Hamai and his older brother, who died when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Image taken in Naka Ward, Hiroshima on June 16, 2019. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)
Fuuka Kawamura, second from right, and other members of Hiroshima Prefectural Kuremitsuta Senior High School's broadcasting club are seen interviewing Toshiki Nishitani on July 7, 2019, in the Koyaura district of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture. Behind them stands the hibakusha cenotaph that had been buried by torrential rains in 2018. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

HIROSHIMA -- The community and lives of the people of Hiroshima were snuffed out in an instant 74 years ago when the U.S. military dropped the atomic bomb on the city on Aug. 6, 1945.

As the memories of that time disappear by the day, members of the younger generation are pursuing projects and activism to try and pass on the recollections of the time in a more tangible way for the people of the future.

The spot where Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park stands is situated in what was the Nakajima District in Naka Ward that was home to some 4,400 people in 1945. Anju Niwata, 17, a third-grade student at Hiroshima Jogakuin Senior High School, received black-and-white photos taken before the war from the district's former residents.

She has been colorizing the images with help from professor Hidenori Watanave of the University of Tokyo, who used digital technology in peace education at her school. The 80 photographs received so far, supplied by 10 people, are colored automatically using artificial intelligence (AI), and then revised by hand based on advice from former residents.

The project has given a renewed vividness to the town's appearance and the lives of those residing in it before the bomb fell. Some of the images are on display at the Hiroshima City Central Library until Sept. 1.

On the effect she hopes the project will have, Niwata said, "I would be happy if people came away from seeing the images realizing the lives of people before the war overlap with our own today."

Members of the computing research group at Fukuyama technical high school in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, are trying to recreate the area around the bomb's hypocenter for exploration through virtual reality (VR).

They started the project around two-and-a-half years ago, and are aiming to continue work to complete it next year. By putting on a special headset, the user can experience the area in which the bomb fell as it would have appeared in the five minutes before and after the blast.

Through the simulation it is also possible to enter the courtyard of the Shima Hospital and the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall, now the Atomic Bomb Dome, which were both situated directly beneath the explosion.

With a level of detail down to the individual roof tiles of the houses, they have made a simulation of the town that could be said to feel almost real. Namio Matsuura, 18, a third-grade student, said, "This is something our generation, that doesn't know war, can do."

In the Koyaura district of Saka, Hiroshima Prefecture, some 10 kilometers away from the bomb's hypocenter, around 150 people affected by the fallout from the atomic bomb who were brought to the town died. A cenotaph was erected for them, but it was buried in a landslide caused by heavy rains in July 2018.

Fuuka Kawamura, 17, is a third-grade student and a member of the broadcasting club at Hiroshima Prefectural Kuremitsuta Senior High School in Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture. She learned about the cenotaph for the first time last year.

After interviews with people including Toshiki Nishitani, 73, head of the society to protect hibakusha cenotaph, she decided to create a video with the firm belief that the fact that some people outside of the city of Hiroshima also suffered from the effects of the atomic bomb must not be forgotten. The film was shown on Aug. 7 at the ward's gathering for peace and those affected by the bomb.

(Japanese original by Naohiro Yamada, Osaka Photo Department)

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