My art, my family, my friends, my environment all impact what I do in and out of the Studio. These are just observations, thoughts, ideas and chatter about anything and everything. Photography by B. NEAL
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
9 March 1945: 334 B-29s dropping incendiaries destroy 267,000 buildings; 25% of city (Operation Meetinghouse) killing some 100,000.
(AP) - It was not Hiroshima or Nagasaki, but in many ways, including lives lost,
it was just as horrific.
March 10, 1945, U.S. B-29 bombers flew over Tokyo in the dead of night, dumping
massive payloads of cluster bombs equipped with a then-recent invention: napalm.
A fifth of Tokyo was left a smoldering expanse of charred bodies and rubble.
a modest floral monument in a downtown park honors the spirits of the 105,400
confirmed dead, many interred in common graves.
was the deadliest conventional air raid ever, worse than Nagasaki and on par
with Hiroshima. But the attack, and similar ones that followed in more than 60
other Japanese cities, have received little attention, eclipsed by the atomic
bombings and Japan's postwar rush to rebuild.
Nihei, just 8 when the bombs fell, was among many survivors who kept silent. A
half-century passed before she even shared her experiences with her own son.
parents would just say, 'That's a different era,'" Nihei said. "They wouldn't
talk about it. And I figured my own family wouldn't understand."
as their numbers dwindle, survivors are determined to tell their stories while
they still can.
earlier raids targeted aircraft factories and military facilities, the Tokyo
firebombing was aimed largely at civilians, in places including Tokyo's downtown
area known as "shitamachi," where people lived in traditional wood and paper
homes at densities sometimes exceeding 100,000 people per square mile.
were plenty of small factories, but this area was chosen specifically because it
was easy to burn," says historian Masahiko Yamabe, who was born just months
after the war's end.
departure from earlier raids: the bombers flew low.
was as if we could reach out and touch the planes, they looked so big," said
Yoshitaka Kimura, whose family's toy store in downtown Tokyo's Asakusa was
destroyed. "The bombs were raining down on us. Red, and black, that's what I
now 78, was mesmerized as she watched from a railway embankment.
was a blazing firestorm. I saw a baby catch fire on its mother's back, and she
couldn't put out the fire. I saw a horse being led by its owner. The horse
balked and the cargo on its back caught fire, then its tail, and it burned
alive, as the owner just stood there and burned with it," she said.
Isamu Kase was on duty at a train parts factory. He jumped onto a pump truck
when the attack began, knowing the job was impossible.
was a hellish frenzy, absolutely horrible. People were just jumping into the
canals to escape the inferno," said Kase, 89. He said he survived because he
didn't jump in the water, but his burns were so severe he was in and out of
hospital for 15 years.
choices like that determined who lived and who died.
a 7-year-old, escaped the flames as he was blown into the entrance of a big
department store while running toward the Sumida River, where tens of thousands
of people died: burned, crushed, drowned or suffocated in the firestorm.
Ohtake, then 13, fled his family's noodle shop with a friend. Turned back by
firefighters, they headed toward Tokyo Bay and again were ordered back. The boys
crouched in a factory yard, waiting as flames consumed their neighborhood.
saw a fire truck heaped with a mountain of bones. It was hard to understand how
so many bodies could be piled up like that," said Ohtake.
about two hours and 40 minutes, the B-29s left.
speak of the hush as dawn broke over a wasteland of corpses and debris, studded
by chimneys of bathhouses and small factories. Police photographer Koyo Ishikawa
captured the carnage of charred bodies piled like blackened mannequins, tiny
ones lying beside them.
was as if the world had ended," said Nihei, whose father sheltered her under his
body, as others piled on top and were burned and suffocated. All her family
Kiyo-oka, a 21-year-old government worker living in the Asakusa district,
survived by hiding under a bridge.
I crawled out I was so cold, so I was warming myself near one of the piles that
was still smoldering. I could see an arm. I could see nostrils. But I was numb
to that by then," she said. "The smell is one that will never leave me." --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- There is no photograph I would even consider to lead this post. There is so much history that I was never taught in school. There is a great sadness in my heart that our politicians of today base their decisions on what they want to be, where they want to go, how they want to govern, based on their egos, pride, greed and money. Wisdom does not seem to be valued in our culture.
I am appalled at the decision our leaders took on March 9th & 10th of 1945.