Title of Artifact: Atomic Bomb Survivor.

Date: August 1945-September 1945. This URL claims it was taken approximately on August 15, 1945, whereas CBS says September 1945. Regardless, it was taken not long after the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was dropped.

Geography: Hiroshima, Japan, Ujina Branch of the First Army Hospital

Medium: Paper

Dimensions: Unknown

Classification: Photograph

Provenance/Ownership: CBS provides the credit to AP.


This photograph, taken in 1945, not long after the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the United States, was taken to show the wounds on the back of a woman due to the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. According to CBS, “the thermal rays emitted by the explosion burned the pattern of this woman’s kimono upon her back.” The fact that the woman is turned away from the camera seems to indicate that this is the purpose. However, her back towards the camera may do more than just show her wounds. Perhaps it conveys the social atmosphere of this time and setting: one being of suffering and sadness. This photo may also add nuance to how one views the year 1945, particularly, a viewpoint that often gets lost in the traditional history told of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan: a viewpoint of the survivors, and that there is pain and grief among the joyfulness that the end of World War 2 brought about.

Recommended reading

1. Black Rain, Masuji Ibuse.

While this is a novel, it gives a very detailing description of the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan by the United States, what they saw, how they felt, the suffering and despair they have gone through. It gives a better sense of what the woman in the photograph may have experienced.

2. HIROSHIMA, NAGASAKI, and the World Sixty Years Later, Lindsley Cameron and Masao Miyoshi. 

This academic journal article gives important information about how the atomic bombs are remembered today, particularly in Japan. It also shows how the atomic bombs of August 1945 impacts today, one example being the cancer rates of atomic bomb survivors being higher than average.

By: John McCray, University of Oklahoma, 2/11/2019