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Oleander Initiative – Readings #1

Info Packet #1: The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima 

Interactive Digital Archive Map of Hiroshima

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This cutting edge tool was created by Prof. Hidenori Watanave who is currently a visiting professor at Harvard University. His website enables the user to travel around Hiroshima and click on icons that produce testimonies, videos and pictures from the atomic bombing. This website also allows the user to move forward and back in time, enabling the user to compare Hiroshima before the bomb, shortly after the bomb and its current state. The sheer number of testimonies and archival material collected in one place and presented so artistically is both  powerful and informative.

Click HERE to view the Hiroshima Digital Archive.

This website can take a bit of time to load, please be patient!

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

sadako statue
Sadako’s Statue at Hiroshima Peace Park

Perhaps the most famous story from the bombing of Hiroshima is Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. Sadako was close to the atomic bomb when it dropped in 1945. Although she survived that day, she contracted leukemia from the long term effects of the bomb nine years later. Inspired by the Japanese folk saying that anyone who has the determination to fold 1000 paper cranes will be granted a wish, Sadako began folding cranes in her hospital bed. Sadako succumbed to her cancer after folding 600+ cranes. Her classmates folded the remaining 300+ cranes for Sadako. Sadko’s courageous struggle against her illness still inspires thousands who decorate her statue in Hiroshima Peace park with paper cranes every year.




Click HERE to see Sadako’s story


Hibakusha Testimonies

Hibakusha is the Japanese term for survivors of the atomic bombing. Please find below three stories or testimonials.

Horie Soh

We will meet Horie Soh at the World Friendship Center during our first day in Hiroshima. Soh -san’s powerful, emotional testimonial combined with this optimistic outlook and sincere wishes of peace has been one of the highlights of our program since 2016

soh and group
Soh san with the inaugural Oleander group in 2016

soh and h.jpg  soh and r





Please click on the link below to read Soh San’s testimonial of what he experienced on August 6, 1945.

Soh San’s Testimonial 

Jongkeun Lee

It is estimated that over 20,000 Koreans were killed by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. During the years after the bombing, many Korean hibakusha struggled to gain government recognition as victims of the atomic bomb. During the program, we will meet Jongkeun Lee who was 16 years old when the bomb dropped. We will hear his extraordinary story of survival on the days following the bombing, as well as his lifelong struggle against discrimination as both a hibakusha and a Korean living in Japan.

Please click on the link below to view a NHK story about Lee-san.

lee san

Click HERE to view this NHK news story

Junko Kayashige

Junko Kayashige has traveled throughout the world, including the US, Egypt and numerous European countries to tell others what happened on August 6, 1945. I met this extraordinary woman in 2016 and I hope you will have the opportunity to meet her during the Oleander Initiative as well. Her testimonial can be viewed through the link below.

junko san
Junko Kayashige



Paper Lanterns Film

PL film

In the summer of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. On August 6th, “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, and three days later, “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed. What few people know is that 12 American POWs were on the ground in Hiroshima, 1,300 feet from ground zero.  Two of the twelve Americans were Normand Brissette of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Ralph Neal, of Corbin, Kentucky.

On that same early August morning, a young Japanese boy, Shigeaki Mori, would witness the explosion. He would survive that day, but his life would be changed forever. Mr. Mori would go on to document the events of that day and the thousands that were lost. Through his research, he would find evidence of the 12 American POWs, and would spend over 35 years tracking down their stories. Not as enemies, but as humans that suffered in one of history’s most tragic events. To honor them, like all the others who suffered as victims that day, he worked tirelessly to track down each family and try to give some closure and even solace by letting them know what happened. And to have each airman recognized at the Hiroshima Peace Museum, named as victims of the atomic blast.  What would drive this man to spend so much time and effort to recognize them? To reach out to their families and provide comfort. And often closure.

And that is exactly what Shigeaki Mori did. Normand and the other Americans were just some of the over 100,000 people that died following the bombing. Normand shared the same fate as the Japanese. His story is their story. But one man has stood up to give the 12 their voice. One man looked at them not as just as a symbol of those that had dropped the bomb, but as victims. They were sons, brothers, husbands and fathers. And they deserved to be treated as such. No matter what uniform they wore. That is Shigeaki Mori’s legacy.

“Paper Lanterns”  is a film about the true story of Normand Brissette, Ralph Neal, and Mr. Mori’s struggle to account for their story in the years and decades that followed the end of World War II. This story is about them. The horrors they witnessed. The families that struggled to find the truth, and one man’s effort to give them the gift of closure. It’s about the humanity and compassion shown by those who were in the heart of the destruction. The generation that lived through these events are dying away. They don’t want anyone to forget their loved ones and the sacrifices they made. They want to strive for peace, compassion and a world free of nuclear weapons. They want us to never forget their story.

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Mr. Mori with President Obama during his visit to Hiroshima in 2016

Please use the password emailed to you to access this movie





1 reply added

  1. Brahim July 22, 2016 Reply

    All this filled me with a lot of sadness. It’s a pity that Man can be so cruel to Man.

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