HIROSHIMA – The horror in post-bombing Hiroshima is captured in black-and-white photos of the city and its beleaguered survivors.
But Taeko Tada, whose mother survived the U.S. atomic bombing at the age of 5, has a different take on the tragedy. Her self-published manga focuses on the happier faces of women who let go of their pain, decided to forgive and helped to rebuild the city.
“The Hiroshima Miracle: Hiroshima is in the Pink!” uses the color pink on its cover to depict the hibakusha experience as one of hope and joy.
“I wanted people to know more of the brighter side of Hiroshima, that this city is in the pink and filled with happiness as a result of efforts by women like my great-grandmother to rebuild the city after the atomic bomb,” said Tada, 47, a representative of the Hiroshima-based Peace Piece Project.
“Hiroshima is not just an atomic-bombed city with a sad history but also with a story of rising above the tragedy. I wanted to retell the stories of women who struggled and played key roles in reconstruction efforts and how women forgave and helped each other.”
Tada’s great-grandmother lost her daughter-in-law at age 56 due to the effects of the atomic bomb and raised Tada’s mother alone.
Tada released the manga in Japanese in five booklets last year, to mark 70 years since the end of World War II. It was printed in English in March and will be available on iBooks.
The book was sent to American Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who in April wrote a letter of thanks. Kennedy said a copy will be sent to Washington.
In her letter, Kennedy said she was “deeply moved” by her visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and said she hopes the visits will “help to advance President (Barack) Obama’s goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons.”
Tada said she was “very touched” by Obama’s speech during his historic visit Friday to Hiroshima as the first sitting U.S. president to do so, especially since he mentioned a story about forgiveness, a theme that reverberates in her manga.
In his address, Obama spoke of a woman who forgave the pilot who flew the plane that dropped the bomb “because she recognized what she really hated was war itself.”
Tada’s 172-page book features her great-grandmother’s ordeal in the aftermath of the bombing. Tada said she was very young when her great-grandmother died but vividly recalls her inspiring words about how it is better to forgive than to be stuck in the past.
The manga also features the story of a mother who cheered on a struggling baseball team in Hiroshima in honor of her son and a woman who was known as one of the “Hiroshima Maidens” invited to the United States for reconstructive surgery.
Recounting her experience in high school, Tada said she was shocked when, as a volunteer guide for foreign visitors, she was asked if the people in Hiroshima still hated Americans.
“(The) atomic bombing is a serious subject and sometimes discourages people to come here. People feel heavy after touring through the Peace Memorial Park and other atomic bomb-related sites,” she said.
She said her manga received positive feedback from atomic bomb survivors, who thanked her for sharing sentiments they could not quite articulate.
“We cannot live in the past. We cannot change what happened,” Tada said. Her message is to live toward the future: “This is the Hiroshima I want people to know.”