The Silent Survivor of the Hiroshima Bombings

It's been almost 70 years since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings that saw the end of World War two. One of the survivors of the bombings is the Hibaku trees in Hiroshima.


Sabtu, 18 Jan 2014 19:47 WIB


Shivali Nayak Radio Australia

The Silent Survivor of the Hiroshima Bombings

Japan, Hibaku tree, Hiroshi Sunairi, The Tree Project, Radio Australia

Japanese artist Hiroshi Sunairi has a personal connection with Hiroshima.

Apart from growing up in the city, his mother and grandmother were exposed to radiation when the bomb dropped on the city in 1945.

Many years later, while working with the Hiroshima museum, Mr Sunairi attended a lecture by botanist Chikara Horiguchi... who spoke about Hibaku trees, one of the silent survivors of that fateful day.

“I was really moved by his work and philosophy, he talks about it as trees or nature has no ideology, but we can imagine a lot of things from them by contemplating on them about the peace, atom bombs, the environment, all kinds of things. Because you know they don't say anything but they have survived."

The New York based Mr Sunairi approached Dr Horiguchi for some seeds from the Hibaku trees, and that's how the Tree Project was born in 2006.

“The tree project has been growing organically without my pursuing meaning you know the tree project is public. Meaning I archive whatever documentation, comments and the pictures on my blog called Tree project blog."

Over the course of seven years, Mr Sunairi has given out some five hundred seeds to people in over fifty countries... after they were cultivated in the Hiroshima botanical gardens by Dr Horiguchi.

“You know Dr Horiguchi saying about the trees have no ideology really helped me because I can talk about the atomic bombings as something that's catastrophic without ideology of countries. That's what I like about tree project, it's between we and nature. I am not so much into what happened and the visceral aspect of Hiroshima because I think there has been many things that has documented these things. I wanted to go more beyond the reminder of the horrific, and say there is a life beyond what happened. Even something like this terrible happened but there is a beauty of life that encourages and makes people happy, that makes us think about what we have done to the nature."

But the project has faced its challenges.

For instance, differing weather conditions in different countries mean differing results.

“Because it's a work dealing with nature, it's not so simple meaning just to get the sprouts, it's a hassle. We have tried to send seeds from the botanical gardens of Hiroshima to Singapore, and the first batch of seeds somehow only one of them sprouted.

The Tree Project is now part of the ongoing M1 Fringe Festival in Singapore.

As for Mr Sunairi, he has no plans to wrap up this project.

“The way I think of the project is maybe some of the participants trees are large enough and they want to replant it on the ground in public places and everyone can see these trees that have survived the bombing are now in your country."


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