Hiroshima after the Atomic Bomb

The images here are all 360º Panoramas. Click to open them.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN 360º PANORAMA. Photographed by Harbert F. Austin Jr. from the roof of the Kodo elementary School October, 1945. Location: Nekoya-cho. Distance from hypocenter: approx. 760m. The start of restoration work by the citizens in the aftermath of the bomb can be observed as people cross bridges, ride bicycles, and walk about.

One day last year, a friend of mine stumbled across one of these images. Knowing that I am always interested in seeing historical 360º photos, he sent me the link. Panoramic photography has existed for more than a century, but I had not seen these before.  Looking at these images, turning them around in a circle, is the strongest reminder I have had in a very long time of the real power of photography. The image above, even more so than all the other ones, is one of the most heartbreaking images I have ever seen.

I contacted the man running the site where the image was located. His name is Steven Starr, and he teaches at the University of Missouri. His website, www.nucleardarkness.org, is a resource for anyone who is interested in the danger of existing nuclear arsenals currently held in the world.

Steven directed me to Mari Shimomura of the Hiroshima Peace Museum. I explained to Ms. Shimomura of my desire to publicize these images more widely, and she was kind enough to send me high-resolution scans of photos comprising five different 360º panoramas shot about 6 months after Hiroshima was destroyed. The images were shot by three different American photographers, and one Japanese photographer.

The Japanese photographer, Shigeo Hayashi, said this:

On October 1, 1945, I stood at the hypocenter of the Hiroshima atomic bombing and made a slow revolution. In that instant I had a difficulty grasping that this city had been felled by a single explosion. Nothing in my experience had prepared me to conceive of that magnitude of destructive force.

Working as an army engineer for three years, I had dealt with explosive materials on a daily basis, and I thought I knew their power. Standing there, I simply could not accept at an emotional level that a single bomb had done all this.

(taken from Shigeo Hayashi’s “Approaching Ground Zero” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki: the Atomic Bombings as Seen through Photographs and Artwork, Nihontosho Center.)

The panorama below was shot from a watchtower of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commerce Association. The building you see in this image still stands today:

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN 360º PANORAMA. Photographed by Shigeo Hayashi from a watchtower of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commerce Association, October 5, 1945. Location: Moto-machi. Distance from hypocenter: approx. 260m.

(You can also see more recent photos of the above place on Google Maps.)


CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN 360º PANORAMA. Photographed by Shigeo Hayashi from the roof of new Chugoku Shimbun building.

The following two images were taken by American photographers (one of them is anonymous)

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN 360º PANORAMA. Photographed by H. J. Peterson in November 1945 from the roof of the Fukuya Department Store. Distance from hypocenter: approx. 710m.


Here is Ground Zero (the Hypocenter)

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN 360º PANORAMA. Ground Zero. Photographed by US Army. from the hypocenter area - Shima Hospital October, 1945


Special thanks to the Hiroshima Peace Museum.

Special thanks to Steven Starr / nucleardarkness.org.

32 thoughts on “Hiroshima after the Atomic Bomb

  1. Being a bit of a photographer myself, I must say “Very Good” quality, the subject though is chilling, and a stark reminder of the inhumanity of war.


  2. There must be a sign error with the compass needle both on the panoramic view and on the google maps pane: The sea and the sun are south, not north; what is today the Hiroshima Peace Memorial can be seen in the east, not west.
    Also, the camera location should be about 290 metres west-south-west (242 degrees direction) from where it is shown, somewhere like 34°23’43.69″N, 132°26’48.88″E.


  3. I wonder if the people we see in these pictures as well as those taking those pictures were affected by radiations. From what I guess, they must all have died horrible death. Unless the after effects of nuclear bombs are not as dangerous as, say, the failure of nuclear reactors.


  4. Pingback: Anonymous
  5. Radiation was the least of their problems at that point. They had enough to worry about trying to restore basic services in a city burned to the ground (most of the damage seen here was done by fire, not the bomb itself) amidst the general economic collapse of a nation decisively defeated by bombing and blockade.


  6. In the holy Bible it says: first call for peace !!! threat the enemy. Give the enemy option to surrend.
    while attacking leave the enemy a way to escape, so to save lives… Is this what happend in Hiroshima ?
    WHy did the Japanees fight anyway, what for?
    Did the Americans have any other choice?
    Maybe Hiroshima stoped the mass killing of WW2 ?


  7. My Father had just finished winning 4 Bronze Battle Stars fighting Japanese in the Philipines after seeing seeing first hand the atrocities the Japanese army had committed there.

    After victory in the Philipines, he and hundreds of thousands of other American soldiers found themselves at sea headed for the invasion of Japan. They were told to be prepared to see 3 out of 5 soldiers not make it off the beaches of Japan alive and that the Japanese were arming women & children with anything they could to fight off the America invasion.

    These bombs saved hundreds of thousands of America soldier’s lives. God Bless the Great Peacemaker: the Nuclear Bomb.

    Pity the America left doesn’t understand or appreciate how many decades of peace our use of the bomb brought to the world.


  8. As a few others have noted, there appears to be a misalignment between some of the panoramas and direction indicated on the compass and map. I noticed it most clearly in panoramas 1 and 4, where the (now) Genbaku Dome is seen in the wrong direction from where it actually lies relative to the point where the panorama photos were taken.


  9. Seeking Gods blessing for such death & destruction turns the idea of Christianity on it’s head. I pray no one will ever use such evil again. The hubris of the American citizenry never ceases to amaze me.


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