Atomic Bombing in Nagasaki - Destruction of a City

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Approximately 70,000 Lost by the End of 1945

Before the Atomic Bombing

Nagasaki is located in the western part of Kyushu and prospered as a port city.

Nagasaki’s history traces back to the late 16th century. Since then, the city witnessed various historical moments over the past 400 years.

Hamano-machi Street – Nagasaki City Center
Nagasaki Station
Nagasaki Munitions Factory (City Center)    
Urakami Cathedral, the Largest Cathedral in East Asia (Hypocenter Area, Pre-Atomic Bombing)
Detonation of the Atomic Bomb

11:02 a.m. August 9, 1945

US bomber Boxcar dropped the plutonium-type atomic bomb 9,600 m in the sky above Nagasaki.

The bomb exploded 500 meters above Matsuyama-machi in the northern part of the city, 3 km. away from its primary target.

Photograph of Hypocenter Prior to Atomic Bombing
Post-Bombing Photograph of Hypocenter (1 month later)

Damage to Hypocenter Area

Surface temperature at the hypocenter reached 3,000 to 4,000 centigrade with a blast wind maxing out at 440m/sec.

Panoramic Photo of Hypocenter

The point of explosion is marked in the center-left area of this picture. All of the buildings in this area were demolished and/or burned down.(Photograph Taken Two Months After Atomic Bombing)

Trees in the Hypocenter – The blast directly above these trees split tree trunks in half. 

Damage in 1km radius of Hypocenter

“Almost all of the humans and animals in this area were killed instantly by the immense explosion, pressure, and heat waves. Houses, buildings, and wooden columns turned to ruins and the area would soon become engulfed in fire. Gravestones were destroyed. Trees and plants both big and small were all leveled in the direction of the Hypocenter, losing their branches and catching fire.”

Nagasaki Prefectural Government Report on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bomb

Nagasaki Prison Urakami Branch Located 200m from the Hypocenter, only the outer wall barely withstood the blast.

Municipal Shiroyama National School

Around 1,400 students out of the 1,500 students in this school, located 500m west of the Hypocenter, are presumed to have died in their homes.    

Municipal Yamazato National School  - Around 1,300 students out of the 1,581 students (as of June 30, 1945) in this school, located 0.7m from the hypocenter, are presumed to have died from the atomic bombing    

Damage Within 1 to 2 km Radius of the Hypocenter

“Some of the humans and animals died from the blast wind and heat wave felt in this area. The majority, however, suffered from minor to severe injuries. Approximately 80% of the houses, buildings, and wooden columns were destroyed and what remained would soon fall victim to the subsequent fires that would break out. Concrete and steel columns were not destroyed. A portion of the greenery withered and died.”

Nagasaki Prefectural Government Report on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bomb

Panoramic Photo of Urakami Station

Railway services were quickly restored and operations resumed on August 12.However, the majority of other railway stations and facilities were not back in service yet.

In the middle-left area of this picture, the concrete remains of the Nagasaki Medical College Hospital, located 1km south of the hypocenter, can be seen (photo taken two months after bombing). The inside of the hospital was burned out by fire, leaving only the external skeleton and rendering the building useless.

Streetcar Destroyed by the Blast Distance from Hypocenter: 1 km South
Mitsubishi Arms Factory in Mori-machi Distance from the Hypocenter: 1.5 km South

Damage Beyond 2 km Radius of Hypocenter

“Flying debris caused severe to minor injuries and some suffered burns from the heat rays. Blackish colored objects triggered fire. Houses, buildings, and wooden columns were partly destroyed and some buildings completely burnt down. Charred marks from the direction of the Hypocenter could be seen on wooden columns.

Nagasaki Prefectural Government Report on Damage Caused by the Atomic Bomb

Kyushu Electric Distribution Power Plant - Distance from Hypocenter: Approx. 2 km South
Nishi Naka-machi Cathedral - Distance from the Hypocenter: Approx. 2.7 km South-Southeast
Relief Station at Shinkozen National School - Photograph of patient’s families cooking meals on school grounds.Distance from Hypocenter: 3 km

Restoring the City

The next challenge awaiting for those who narrowly escaped the atomic bomb was the struggle for survival.

For the first few days, they camped along the montainside and riverside. Gradually, they started to build a zinic hut using collected materials from the ruins. The air raid shelters were also used as their temporary houses.

 Public housing were developed but only few hundred houses were built and the shortage of housing continued.

Houses were built in air raid shelters after the war ended. Date of Photograph: 15 days to 1 month after Atomic Bombing
Citizens collected wood and carried them home to use for household fuel. On the left is hurriedly-constructed Municipal housing.  Distance from Hypocenter: 800m
Panoramic View of Hypocenter (Present Day Peace Park Area) Date of Photograph: 10 years after Atomic Bombing

Nagasaki’s Appeal for Peace

Hypocenter – A cenotaph was erected in memory of those lost in the atomic bombing so that a tragedy such as this one will never be repeated. Date of Photograph: Few Years after Atomic Bombing    
Present Day Hypocenter Cenotaph    
Credits: Story

Curator — Shotaro Okuno
Curator — Ayano Matsuo

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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