Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Instagram
 

Hibaku Jumoku: The trees that survived the atomic bomb blast at Hiroshima

David Goran

At the end of World War II, on August 6th, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. The bomb wiped out 90 percent of the city, killing 80,000 people immediately, and eventually contributed to the death of at least 100,000 more. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th. Buildings are lifeless structures that became cold and hollow over time, but a miracle that survived the horrors are the “Hibaku Jumoku” trees (Survivor Trees ).

hundreds of trees that are still standing today were actually around the vicinity when the bomb went off. Photo Credit

Many of the trees that are still standing today were actually around the vicinity when the bomb went off. Photo Credit

 

Each bears a name plate reading Hibakujumoku (survivor tree). Photo Credit

Each bears a name plate reading Hibakujumoku (survivor tree). Photo Credit

After the war, many of those trees were replanted or preserved in 55 locations within a 2km radius of the bomb’s epicenter. According to Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Physical, Medical, and Social Effects of the Atomic Bombings, plants suffered damage only in the portions exposed aboveground, while portions underground were not directly damaged. Consequently, the root and the underground stalk survived and the tree grew back, even where the above ground portion was completely burned away.

The trees stand as silent witnesses to man’s destructive tendencies. Photo Credit

The trees stand as silent witnesses to man’s destructive tendencies. Photo Credit

 

The trees are located all over on the grounds of public buildings, temples, and shrines, and are under the care of the Hiroshima government. Photo Credit

The trees are located all over on the grounds of public buildings, temples, and shrines, and are under the care of the Hiroshima government. Photo Credit

According to the City of Hiroshima, there are about 170 survivor trees representing 32 different species. The rate of regeneration differed by species. Active regeneration was shown by broad-leaved trees. The tree closest to the hypocenter is a Weeping Willow, which stands 370 meters away from the blast site. The willow tree fell when the bomb hit, but its roots survived and soon new buds sprouted.

Eucalypt at the site of Hiroshima Castle, 740 m from hypocenter. The tree survived the atomic bombing, while the castle was destroyed. Photo Credit

Eucalypt at the site of Hiroshima Castle, 740 m from the hypocenter. The tree survived the atomic bombing, while the castle was destroyed. Photo Credit

 

Approximately 170 trees that grew in Hiroshima in 2011 had actually been there prior to the bombing. Photo Credit

Approximately 170 trees that grew in Hiroshima in 2011 had actually been there prior to the bombing. Photo Credit

Today, Hiroshima is a green and vibrant city. Many of the trees that were planted in the city after the war were gifts from overseas donors and donors from other parts of Japan. Recently, an initiative was launched, called Green Legacy Hiroshima, through the auspices of UNITAR to help spread the seeds of Hiroshima’s A-bomb-surviving trees around the world.