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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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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