Experience life in Hiroshima before, during, and after nuclear warfare decimated the famous Japanese city.
On August 6th, 1945, at 8:15 in the morning, the United States military dropped the nuclear weapon “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, a major urban center located on the Japanese island of Honshu. Upon detonation, over 70,000 human beings, including 20,000 Japanese combatants as well as 2,000 Korean slave laborers, were killed almost instantly, with another 90,000–166,000 eventually dying from injury and radiation exposure.
73 years later a group Japanese high school students have taken it upon themselves to honor the dead with an immersive VR experience they hope will bring further awareness to the devastation possible through nuclear warfare.
Built over the course of two years, the five-minute virtual experience places users on the streets of Hiroshima moments before the atomic bomb is dropped. There they are free to roam the bank of the Motoyasu River, visit the post office, even enter the Shima Hospital courtyard, which now serves as the Atomic Bomb Dome memorial.
Suddenly, there’s a flash. The serene sky that once hung above a bright, colorful city is replaced by smoke and darkness. A loud bang shatters the sounds of birds chirping in trees as the surrounding buildings are disintegrated by the sheer of force of the atomic blast.
The students, all of whom born over half a century after the event, used a combination of historic photos and postcards to deliver the most accurate recreation of the harrowing events.
“Even without language, once you see the images, you understand,” spoke Mei Okada, one of the students involved with the project. “That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience.”
“When I was creating the buildings before the atomic bomb fell and after, I saw many photos of buildings that were gone. I really felt how scary atomic bombs can be,” added Yuhi Nakagawa, another member of the group. “So while creating this scenery, I felt it was really important to share this with others.”
Survivors of the original bombing were then interviewed in order to gain valuable feedback on the VR footage.
“Those who knew the city very well tell us it’s done very well. They say it’s very nostalgic,” said Katsushi Hasegawa, a computer teacher responsible for supervising the club. “Sometimes they start to reminisce about their memories from that time, and it really makes me glad that we created this.”
No word on if we can expect the emotional experience stateside anytime soon.
Image Credit: Haruka Nuga / AP / Time