Way of Life: Rare Footage of the Hiroshima Aftermath, 1946

The recent 9.0-magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima nuclear accidents were among the most devastating environmental disasters in recorded history. The immediate consequences are frightening, but their full, long-term impact remains an unsettling mystery.

This, of course, isn’t the first time Japan has faced a nuclear emergency. After the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. government recorded the raw aftermath of Hiroshima in candid, grim detail (while Hollywood was busy lampooning America’s nuclear obsession). Filmed in the spring of 1946 by the Department of Defense, Way of Life documents how the people of Hiroshima adapted to life after the atomic bomb. Though the archival footage lacks sound, its imagery — moving, heartbreaking, deeply human — speaks volumes about the delicate duality of despair and resilience.

Maria Popova is the founder and editor in chief of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and DesignObserver, and spends a great deal of time on Twitter.

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