The “Shadow” of a Hiroshima Victim, Etched into Stone Steps, Is All That Remains After 1945 Atomic Blast

in History | March 16th, 2016

japan shadow

At 8:15 on the morning of August 6, 1945, a person sat on a flight of stone stairs leading up to the entrance of the Sumitomo Bank in Hiroshima, Japan. Seconds later, an atomic bomb detonated just 800 feet away, and the person sitting on the stairs was instantly incinerated. Gone like that. But not without leaving a mark.

As the Google Cultural Institute explains it, “Receiving the rays directly, the victim must have died on the spot from massive burns. The surface of the surrounding stone steps was turned whitish by the intense heat rays. The place where the person was sitting became dark like a shadow.”

That shadow lasted for years, until eventually rain and wind began to erode it. When a new Sumitomo Bank was built, the steps were relocated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they’re now preserved. You can see the “Human Shadow Etched in Stone” above.

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Comments (4)

  1. Shaun says . . .
    March 16, 2016 / 5:52 am

    It looks like their left hand was raised up to shield their eyes from the light? Would they have had time? Somehow the walking stick makes this especially haunting as a visualisation of wiped out generations.

  2. Pamela says . . .
    March 16, 2016 / 7:47 am

    As I look at the shadow, it strikes that the person was probably standing at the bottom of the steps; The blast was high enough it would have fore-shortened the shadow. The Walking stick is in a forward position as if the person were using it to steady himself or preparing to take a step.
    It is also a possibility that he had just come down the steps from the bank. Sitting just doesn’t get it in my opinion.

  3. Marcelo Cabane says . . .
    March 16, 2016 / 9:47 am

    Maybe the last shadow of humanity

  4. La Belle Gigi says . . .
    March 16, 2016 / 10:14 am

    This inspired Ray Bradbury to write “There Will Come Soft Rains”.

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