What is Peace to You? -One step towards peace from Nagasaki-

Here is our PDF(https://www.n-junshin.ac.jp/univ/profile/What_is_Peace_to_You.pdf), but you can also see them below.

What does the word “peace” mean to you?

We have been thinking deeply about this question since we were 7 years old. Indeed, all children in Nagasaki must do so as part of their education. At 11:02am on August 9th 1945, an atomic bomb exploded above this city, three days after an atomic bomb exploded above Hiroshima. 73,884 people were killed by the Nagasaki atomic bomb and 74,909 people were injured.

In Nagasaki, peace education has a special significance because Nagasaki was the second and last city on earth to be targeted by an atomic bomb. Every year on August 9th, during the summer vacation, students from across Nagasaki gather at their schools to pray and to remember those who died on that fateful day in 1945.

As citizens of Nagasaki, we long for a world without war. We know, however, that this hope will not be realized without the active engagement of young people. We recently decided, therefore, to found a new student organization, which we have chosen to call “Green Pieces”. We wished the word “green” to imply youth and freshness, while we wished the word “pieces” to remind people that we are a small piece of wider society and must, as young people living and studying in Nagasaki, do our bit to tell the world about the horrors of nuclear weapons. We also wished the word ”pieces” to evoke the word “peace”, which is the ultimate goal of all our efforts.

We have produced this pamphlet in order to try to take our message to a global audience. We hope this pamphlet will be of some small help in helping you to reflect upon the meaning and importance of peace.

Yuka Mukae, Yuka Sakuragi, Sayaka Ono, Natsuki Izumi
Students of Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University and founding members of Green Pieces
Wednesday 9th February 2018


Places Affected by the Atomic Bomb (by Sayaka Ono)

Sannō Shrine

In Japan, there are many Shinto shrines. Marking the entranceway to these shrines are gates known as torii, which in the Shinto religion demarcate sacred space. Sannō Shrine is located very near to where the atomic bomb hit. Before the bombing it had 4 torii, but 2 were completed destroyed in the blast and 1 was severely damaged (the forth survived the bomb but was later destroyed in a road traffic accident). Regarding the torii that was severely damaged, only one half of it survived the blast. Today this “one-legged shrine gate” sits at the top of a flight of stairs within a residential area, and has become a potent symbol of the destruction caused by atomic warfare. The destroyed half of the shrine gate has been laid beside it, bearing witness to the force of the atomic blast.

Camphor Trees

Camphor Trees

Within the precinct of the rebuilt shrine, just near the one legged shrine gate, there are two huge camphor trees that are about 400 or 500 years old. These trees were also damaged in the blast but remained alive. Now they have regrown into great trees, but at the time of the atomic bomb all their leaves were burnt and their trunks and branches were left entirely bare.

The trunks of each tree contain large tree holes, and within these tree holes are many black stones (you can peer within these large tree holes if you climb the special stairs provided). The stones were turned black by the atomic bomb and blown into these tree holes by the force of the blast, and as such they constitute another powerful reminder of the horrors of war.

Shiroyama Elementary School

Shiroyama Elementary School

There are 78 elementary schools in the city of Nagasaki, among them Shiroyama Elementary School. This school contains various monuments related to the atomic bomb, having been located just 500 meters from the hypocenter.
Although much of the school was destroyed in the bomb, when it was rebuilt after the war one staircase was deliberately left standing as a reminder of the destruction witnessed that day. This part of the building was initially used as a classroom, but was later transformed into a Peace Memorial Hall following a suggestion from the students.

Within this Memorial Hall, which has been open since 1999, there is a made-to-scale replica of the school just after it was destroyed, as well as many photographs concerning the atomic bombing. The staircase from the original building stops abruptly half way up, having been left as it was after the bomb hit.

Outside, there are many cherry blossom trees, which were planted in memory of Kayoko Hayashi, one of the many children killed in the blast. At the time of the atomic bomb, Shiroyama Elementary School was being used to house offices for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hayashi was one of the many children forced to work there as part of the war effort. She was only 15 years old when she died.

Kayoko’s mother sent the school some cherry blossom saplings after her daughter’s death in the hope that people would cherish her memory and because Kayoko loved the cherry blossom. Today these trees still stand, their annual blossoms reminding people of Kayoko.

In addition to these cherry blossom trees, there are various other reminders of the atomic bomb within the grounds of Shiroyama Elementary School. These include trees that were damaged during the bombing, 10 air raid shelters and a statue of a boy in the 5th grade of elementary school intended to symbolize a child after the bombing hoping for peace and managing to overcome adversity.

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Takashi Nagai (by Yuka Mukae)

Upbringing of Takashi Nagai

Takashi Nagai was born in Matsue (Shimane Prefecture) in 1908. In 1932, he entered Nagasaki Medical College, in order to study radiology. With the outbreak of war, however, a lack of X-ray film forced him to practice direct viewing of patients with tuberculosis, leading him to develop leukemia. In June 1945, he was told that he had less than three years left to live. He began to accept the realization that he would not be able to see his wife Midori and his two children, Makoto and Kayano, for much longer.

Two months later, on August 9th 1945, an atomic bomb exploded above  Nagasaki. Nagai survived the blast and, because he was a trained physician, immediately began helping people who had been caught up in the blast. Three days later at the evening, he returned to the place where his house had stood and discovered that his wife Midori had been killed and his house destroyed. Although the bombing not only claimed the life of his wife but also destroyed all the results of his radiology research thus far, Nagai kept working intensively to save the lives of others.

In November 1946, Nagai became bedridden. Around a year and a half later, in March 1948, he moved to a place called “Nyokodo” with his two children, both of whom had survived the bomb. Nyokodo is a two mat tatami house that was built for Nagai by his fellow Catholics. Nyokodo literally means “as yourself hall”, and Nagai chose this name to evoke the words of Christ “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. While living in Nyokodo, Nagai wrote many books and studied atomic bomb-related illnesses.

The Writings of Takashi Nagai

After becoming confined to his sickbed, Nagai wrote: “Even though I was bedridden, when I searched for the parts of me which still functioned, I had my hands, my eyes and my head”. He therefore decided to write books. In fact, by the time he died in 1951 aged 43, he had written a total of 17 books. The most famous is The Bells of Nagasaki, which was translated into many languages including English and describes Nagai’s experiences of the atomic bombing in detail.

Another well-known book by Nagai is called My Beloved Child, which Nagai wrote for his own children. In addition, the book Living Beneath the Atomic Cloud: Testimony of the Children of Nagasaki was written by students from Yamazato Elementary School who survived the bombing and was edited by Nagai. After editing this book, Nagai wrote a song entitled That Child in memory of the 1,300 children from this elementary school who died in the atomic bomb.


Nagai working from his sickbed at Nyokodo.

Interview with Takashi Nagai’s Grandson

Tokusaburo Nagai is the grandson of Takashi Nagai and has served as the director of Nagai Takashi Memorial Museum since 2011. According to him, Nagai’s life and writings are highly relevant to understanding the present international situation. During our interview, he said: “If we look at the world recently, the way Takashi Nagai writes is as if he had exactly predicted the present situation. It’s true of The Bells of Nagasaki, as if he is peering into the future and understanding it as he writes. There are many things within his writings which make me think that”.

During our interview with Tokusaburo Nagai, he also told us: “What is most scary for human beings is ignorance and forgetting. If we are ignorant or forget, we will make the same mistakes again. It is said that after 20 or 30 years, all those who are known as atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha) will have passed away. We can’t of course hand down 100% of the words spoken by those who actually experienced the atomic bomb, so we must start to consider which of these words we
should hand down to future generations and how”.


Tokusaburo Nagai during our interview at Nagai Takashi Memorial Museum

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Peace Activities Involving Younger Generations in Nagasaki (by Yuka akuragi)

Many atomic bomb survivors in Nagasaki give speeches to tell people about their experiences of the atomic bombing and to teach younger generations about the horror of war. However, the average age of survivors is now above 80 years old, and the number of survivors still alive is decreasing year after year. The question of how to pass on survivors’ experiences to future generations is therefore becoming an urgent one for the local government in Nagasaki. In 2014, therefore, it began training its young people to give speeches based on the experiences of survivors.

Mr. Yoshiro Yamawaki is one such survivor who is helping to train young people to tell people about his experiences of the bombing. I interviewed him on September 7th 2017. Miss Seina Matsuno is one of the young people Mr. Yamawaki is helping to train. I interviewed her on August 11th 2017.

Interview with Mr. Yamawaki

On August 9th 1945, Mr. Yamawaki’s home was destroyed in the atomic bomb. He was 11 years old at the time and his home was located 2.2km from the hypocenter. His father died in the bomb, and Mr. Yamawaki cremated his body himself. Mr. Yamawaki is 84 years old this year, but even now he cannot forget that day.

He began giving speeches about his experiences of the bomb after his retirement, having being invited to do so by the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace. At first he was reluctant to do so, but after attending a talk given by another atomic bomb survivor he became convinced that nobody could tell of the real horror of atomic warfare except atomic bomb survivors themselves, so he decided to begin giving talks himself.

At first, he wasn’t able to give talks well because he remained bitter and was sometimes in tears while speaking. He then underwent training to hold in his emotions and remain composed, and gradually he learnt to give speeches about his experiences effectively.

When he began training Miss Matsuno, he doubted whether she could really understand the experiences of survivors and convey them to others effectively. However, his thinking changed after attending her one of her talks. The people who attended her speech were taking it seriously, and some were in tears.

After this he became convinced that young people could effectively convey his experiences to others and now believes that training young people to give presentations to children is the most effective way of all to convey survivors’ experiences of the atomic bombing to future generations. He now hopes young people will become more proactively involved in peace activities.

During out interview, Mr. Yamawaki told me: “I think peace has three pillars. First of all, peace means the absence of violence, such as no wars, no civil wars and no bullying. Secondly, peace means freedom, such as freedom of speech, freedom to publish, freedom of religion, freedom to gather, freedom of expression and freedom of thought. Finally, peace means no poverty and no hunger. When these three pillars are secured, I think we can say that that is a peaceful society. I think it is necessary to continually reflect on this. That is the root of peace”.


Mr. Yoshiro Yamawaki (aged 84) during our interview at his home in Nagasaki. He gives
speeches about twice a month in both English and Japanese about his experiences of the atomic bombing.

Interview with Miss Matsuno

Miss Matsuno became involved in the project to train young people to give speeches about the experiences of atomic bomb survivors when she was 18 years old. She is now a 19-year-old university student. What provoked her to become involved? According to her, it was her past experiences. When she was a junior high school student, she remembers conducting a survey with Japanese tourists regarding Nagasaki’s atomic bomb history as part of a class on Peace Studies. She was shocked by the results. Approximately 70% of participants admitted that they did not know what happened in Nagasaki on August 9th 1945 (the day the bomb fell). Matsuno was shocked, and decided she must do more to tell people about the horror of atomic weapons.

When she began preparing speeches intended to convey Mr. Yamawaki’s experiences, she felt uneasy because she lacked confidence and doubted whether she could tell Mr. Yamawaki’s story well. Through trial and error, however, and through the feedback she received from people who attended her talks, she gradually became more skilled at doing so. Over time she has gained in confidence, and now wishes to convey Mr. Yamawaki’s story to as many people as possible.

During our interview, I asked her what she thought today’s young people should do to promote peace. She answered: “I want young people to take an interest in history. Since becoming involved in this project, after studying I realized that there were a lot of things that I didn’t know. If I keep studying like this, I think I will discover many more things that I didn’t know. Therefore, first we should study what happened during the war”. Matsuno believes that memories of World War 2 and the atomic bomb are wearing thin with time, and fears that history will repeat itself. Therefore, she believes it to be essential that people study the kind of things that happen during a war.
Matsuno believes “peace” is freedom of speech because if she didn’t have freedom of speech, she would be unable to participate in this initiative aimed at passing on survivors’ stories to future generations. Therefore, freedom of speech is very important to her.


Miss Seina Matsuno (aged 19) giving a talk in Nagasaki. She gives talks all over

At the end of her speeches, Matsuno always asks the audience: “What is ‘peace’ to you? What do you think you can do to make it become a reality? I think that simply studying can of itself be a good peace activity. The most important thing, I think, is to think for oneself. You cannot act without thinking. I encourage you all to consider what peace is to you”.

At the time of writing, it is currently 72 years since an atomic bomb exploded above Nagasaki. In the near future, there will be nobody left alive who remembers that day’s hellish scenes. Only a small amount of time remains for us to listen to speeches about what happened in Nagasaki on August 9th 1945 given by atomic bomb survivors themselves. With that in mind, people like Mr. Yamawaki and Miss Matsuno are working to help try and ensure that the experiences of survivors are never sidelined or forgotten, and that Nagasaki will forever remain the last place on earth where an atomic bomb was used.

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Peace Education in Nagasaki (by Natsuki Izumi)

Every year on August 9th, students from across Nagasaki attend school to remember those who died in the atomic bombing and to learn about peace. Although this is during their summer vacation, as August 9th was the day the bomb dropped they are required to go to school on that day. Yamazato Elementary School in Nagasaki is one of the schools that teaches its students about peace every year on the anniversary of the bombing.

History of Yamazato Elementary School

Yamazato Elementary School is located around 700 meters from the atomic bomb hypocenter. 28 of the school’s 32 staff members present at work on August 9th 1945 died in the blast, and of the school’s 1581 students approximately 1300 were killed. In addition, while the first and second floors of the south side of the main school building survived because they were made of reinforced concrete, the rest of the school was burnt down.

Peace Education given to 2nd Graders at Yamazato Elementary School

In 2017, students in the 2nd grade at Yamazato Elementary School were read kamishibai, which are stories told with the aid of a series of picture cards. The kamishibai being narrated in the photo is Ishi no Hitorigoto, meaning “A Stone’s Soliloquy”. This kamishibai is about the importance of never forgetting what happened in Nagasaki on August 9th 1945. After it was read, we asked the students the following question: “What can we do to build a peaceful world?”. One girl replied, “we must listen to the stories of survivors”, while a boy said “we must tell what we have learned to people who don’t know about the atomic bomb”.


A kamishibai being read to students at Yamazato
Elementary School

Education given to 5th Graders at Yamazato Elementary School

In 2017, students in the school’s 5th grade listened to a talk given by a descendant of the man who was the school principal at the time of the atomic bombing. Its subject was the principal’s son’s experience of the bombing. The principal’s son’s name was Ikuo Mawatari. He suffered in the atomic bombing but survived. He came to the aid of his father, Kukichi Mawatari, but a few days after the bomb, on August 14th 1945, his father died. After the students had listened to this story, we asked them “What kind of world do you hope to live in?”. One boy said that he hoped everyone in the world would learn about the atomic bomb, while one girl said she hoped nobody would ever use nuclear weapons again.


Students listening to a talk given by a descendent of the school’s former principal.
She showed the students many old family photos.


Students at Yamazato Elementary School not only learn about peace on August 9th every year but they also participate in other peace-related activities in the days surrounding it. One such example is a peace walk they undertake, during which they walk to buildings and other sites in Nagasaki that were damaged by the atomic bomb (students in the 6th grade are responsible for introducing the sites to students in the lower grades). In addition, once every two years on August 9th they sing a famous song written by Takashi Nagai at the main atomic bomb memorial ceremony within Nagasaki Peace Park. The name of this song is Ano Ko, meaning “That Child”, and it is very famous in Nagasaki.

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Active Learning with Japanese High School Students (by Yuka Mukae)

What is Active Learning?

Active Learning is a style of learning which is becoming increasingly popular in Japan. According to the Asahi Newspaper, “as opposed to memorizing knowledge
during a one-sided lecture from a teacher, the aim [with active learning] is for students to individually participate and to nurture their ability to solve topics while thinking deeply together with their peers. Discussion and group work are often cited as examples of this kind of nurturing class style”. (The Asahi Newspaper, 17th December 2017).

Peace Education in Nagasaki for Visiting High School Students

High school children from across Japan often come to Nagasaki to learn about the atomic bombing and to study peace. They usually visit the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and the Nagasaki Peace Park, and nearly all of them attend a talk given by a survivor. This is the style of peace education that most high school
students who visit Nagasaki have experienced until now.

A New Style of Peace Education

On December 2nd 2017, approximately 30 students from Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University and 280 high school students who were visiting Nagasaki from Tokyo together participated in an educational activity aimed at promoting a new style of peace education based on the concept of active learning.

Students were divided into 7 classes, each of which consisted of 4 groups of 11 people. Within each group there was a university student who acted as the main facilitator. At the start, pens, post-it notes and large sheets of white paper were distributed to each group. The first discussion topic was “What have you been feeling about peace during your time in Nagasaki?”, and for 40 minutes the members of each group brainstormed and shared ideas. Each group was then required to present their ideas in front of their classmates for 5 minutes. After each group had finished their presentation, the group’s main facilitator also offered comments.

Why is this New Style of Peace Education Necessary?

Traditionally, peace education in Nagasaki was focused on learning facts, whereas today there is a growing need for young people to promote peace in a more proactive way. Atomic bomb survivors who are willing and able to speak about what they suffered in front of large audiences are rapidly declining in number, so new ways must be found to actively engage young people and inspire them to become advocates of peace.

During our active learning class with high school students from Tokyo, we were impressed by how enthusiastically the high school students participated and by how deeply they reflected upon what they themselves could do to promote peace. From our perspective, the active learning class helped to ensure that these students had the chance to express what they were feeling and thinking about their visit to Nagasaki before returning to Tokyo, which probably lowers the chance that those thoughts simply faded from their minds after leaving Nagasaki. In addition, the active learning class helped generate some very creative ideas among the high school students who participated. We therefore think that peace education based around the concept of active learning could be a fruitful way to teach peace studies to coming generations of high school students in Japan.

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