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

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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Time Trav­el Back to Tokyo After World War II, and See the City in Remark­ably High-Qual­i­ty 1940s Video

Haunt­ing Unedit­ed Footage of the Bomb­ing of Nagasa­ki (1945)

Dra­mat­ic Col­or Footage Shows a Bombed-Out Berlin a Month After Germany’s WWII Defeat (1945)

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Comments (18)
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  • Shaun says:

    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.

  • Pamela says:

    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.

  • Marcelo Cabane says:

    Maybe the last shad­ow of human­i­ty

  • La Belle Gigi says:

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

  • Iain says:

    Its not though is it. The Atom­ic Bomb Dome is still there.

  • Dan Thompson says:

    Of course, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that this is, in fact, a piece of art­work by UK artist Jon Adams, made in Portsmouth c.2006, and fea­tur­ing his friend’s shad­ow left after Jon pho­to­shopped his friend out.

  • Norman Meyer says:

    And Japan has­n’t giv­en us any trou­ble since ! That’s the way to win a war ! We haven’t won one since !

  • Abby Miller says:

    I sin­cere­ly hope you’re jok­ing. Thou­sands of inno­cent peo­ple lost their lives to this mon­stros­i­ty. Amer­i­cans weep and cry over the ter­ror­is­tic attack on the Twin Tow­ers which maybe killed 3,000 peo­ple? These attacks killed in the hun­dred thou­sands on civil­lians who did­n’t even know it was com­ing. The city was com­plete­ly wiped out. It was a mass ter­ror­is­tic geno­cide. If our ene­mies were to use it on us we would be mur­dered, but hey, the oth­er coun­try would “win the war!” How hyp­o­crit­i­cal and sick­en­ing.

  • Le Di Chang says:

    “These attacks killed in the hun­dred thou­sands on civil­lians who didn’t even know it was com­ing.”
    How bloody naive a state­ment it is.
    They knew it was com­ing. Pots­dam Dec­la­ra­tion was made in July, the ulti­ma­tum stat­ed that, if Japan did not sur­ren­der, it would face “prompt and utter destruc­tion”. Leaflets were dropped all over Japan (which the gov­ern­ment prompt­ly con­fis­cat­ed).

    Oh also plen­ty of eye­wit­ness men­tioned that they saw the three bomber for­ma­tion fly­ing over Hiroshi­ma that day think­ing it was a mete­o­ro­log­i­cal mis­sion for anoth­er raid on Ube. So they def­i­nite­ly “SAW” it com­ing.

    “The city was com­plete­ly wiped out.”
    Nah if street­car ser­vices could be restored in a month then the city was def­i­nite­ly all right. Down­town was com­plete­ly mopped flat, which IMO was a good thing because how nice and mod­ern Hon­dori area is today com­pare to near­by Iwaku­ni, which was only par­tial­ly flat­tened (three times) by con­ven­tion­al bombs.

    “It was a mass ter­ror­is­tic geno­cide.”
    Look up the def­i­n­i­tion of “geno­cide” before you use that word my dear lady.

    “If our ene­mies were to use it on us we would be mur­dered…”
    We are talk­ing about the Japan­ese Empire, a coun­try that start­ed mass bomb­ing of cities, used WMD, mas­sa­cred hun­dreds and thou­sands of civil­ians across South­east Asia, bru­tal­ly mur­dered thou­sands of pris­on­ers of war. Have you nev­er thought about what they did that led to a buck­et of sun­shine on that fate­ful day?

    Go bark up anoth­er tree. Japan­ese gov­ern­ment sowed the wind, and as a result, they reaped the whirl­wind.

  • Ruth Jenner says:

    Agree com­plete­ly with you, Dan … as you said it’s a 2006 work by Jon Adams called ‘Shad­ow’ and was tak­en at the foot of Portsmouth’s Guild­hall steps.

    Astound­ed at how many peo­ple have also failed to notice how the alleged “Human Shad­ow Etched in Stone” that sup­pos­ed­ly occurred in 1945 extends onto the much more mod­ern rain­wa­ter grille and paving beyond?!

  • Al Rossi says:

    You find moral­ly accept­able the death of mil­lions of civil­ians because “their gov­ern­ment sowed the wind?” Isn’t that con­sid­ered by Inter­na­tion­al Law a “crime against human­i­ty?”

    Your rebut­tal reminds me of a per­son I used to know who used to accuse Jew­ish Amer­i­cans of false­ly pub­li­ciz­ing that 8 mil­lion Jews were killed pur­suant to the “Final Solu­tion” because “only 6 mil­lion were Jews.”

  • Bo says:

    Al Rossi- Agreed! I could­n’t have said it bet­ter!

  • avery wall says:

    how it feels to chew 5 gum

  • Mela Eckenfels says:

    As you can see on the google arts and cul­ture side, these are obvi­ous­ly not the same steps as those on the image you embed­ded.

    Please fix.

  • Jason says:

    Hel­lo i have a quick ques­tion for you about where you’re locat­ed. Usu­al­ly a web­site about us shows their loca­tion..

    I’m curi­ous if you’re in Japan or some oth­er coun­try?

    I read your arti­cle about the atom­ic bomb in Japan it is pret­ty good.

    Thank you

  • Jay says:

    The rea­son the bombs were dropped was because the Japan­ese attacked pearl har­bor for no rea­son and killed thou­sands of inno­cent peo­ple if they nev­er did that the bombs would’ve nev­er been dropped there.

  • A Raspberry says:

    You’re all unin­formed. It was me that was tak­en advan­tage of. It’s about time that I was rec­om­pensed for being a dam­ag­ing false icon, don’t you under­stand?

  • Kelly says:

    what is wrong with you?

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