Hiroshima’s Children

With a gift of art supplies, children who survived the bombings drew visions of joy

Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard is a 52-minute documentary produced by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and written and directed by Bryan Leichhardt.

The film depicts the aftermath of the first atomic bomb through the remarkable drawings and stories of surviving Japanese school children who were part of an extraordinary, compassionate exchange with their American counterparts after the war.

In 1995, a parishioner of the All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., discovered a long-forgotten box containing dozens of colorful drawings made by Japanese children from the Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima just two years after their city was destroyed. The surprisingly hopeful drawings were created and sent to the church nearly 50 years earlier in appreciation for much-needed school supplies received as part of the church’s post-war humanitarian efforts.

The Honkawa school was just 1100 feet from ground zero on August 6, 1945. Nearly 400 children died in the schoolyard that fateful morning. Surviving students and teachers describe the horror of that day and reflect on their difficult lives amidst the rubble of their decimated city, as well as the hope they shared through their art.

Classes resumed soon after in the window-less concrete shell of the remaining Honkawa school building to provide some sense of normalcy. The film features recently found archival footage that shows what life was like in the weeks and months after the bomb fell and how Hiroshima gradually recovered.

The rediscovered drawings were restored by members of the All Souls Church, who several years later embarked on an emotional journey to Japan to exhibit the artwork at the Honkawa school and reunite the surviving artists for the first time with the drawings they created as children.

The artists and church members reflect on the lessons that resulted from a compassionate exchange nearly 70 years ago between American and Japanese children following a bitter and devastating World War.

To view an excerpt from the film, click here.

To screen the film click here.

To see some of the drawings, click here.

And read about the moment that inspired Shizumi to make the film.

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