Akiko Takakura Survived the Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima

Akiko Takakura’s story of surviving the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Japan, is depicted in a beautiful and moving animated animation.

Akiko Takakura was sixteen years old when she witnessed one of the most horrific incidents in human history and lived to tell the tale. She was a bank employee who was present when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945. She has often told her tale in an effort to end the use of nuclear weapons worldwide. Takakura used illustrations to tell her experience before her death in 2015, and, along with her testimony, two filmmakers created an astonishing short film that everyone should see.

The short film:

In collected illustrations by survivors of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, there are two striking pieces by Akiko Takakura, who was about 300 yards from the hypocenter. One shows a woman who is so thirsty, she is trying to drink black rain. Another shows a hand emitting blue flames.

When we met Ms. Takakura in 2012, we were surprised to find that her story offered a glimmer of hope amid all the horror. At just 19 years old, surrounded by catastrophe, she experienced a kind of affection from her father that she never received before. It was a small moment of happiness during unspeakable tragedy.

We asked ourselves how she had found peace with a world that had been so cruel to her. Did the secret lie in the moment when her father washed her hands after the bombing? What does an act of love in a moment of despair mean?
We lived with the voice of Ms. Takakura for the years it took to complete the animated film above. There were many moments when we wanted to walk away from this project, to close our eyes to the horror we were illustrating. Her voice urged us forward, asking us not to forget.

The illustrations by Ms. Takakura and other survivors inspired the visual style of the film. They were predominantly created by individuals who weren’t professional artists, who presented their stories in a raw and unfiltered way. They were saying: This is what happened to us.

There are few people alive today who saw the impact of the atomic bombing with their own eyes. When they’re gone, their memories and raw emotions go with them. We were lucky to be able to capture Ms. Takakura’s story, in her own voice.

Though there are thousands of stories of Hiroshima, the experience of a single survivor reminds us that there is only one possible human response: This should never happen again.

Text and Film by André Hörmann and Anna Samo