Sep 22, 2007
Monitor Assistant Editor
A public meeting Sunday sponsored by the Los Alamos Study Group brings to Los Alamos a rare and remarkable individual.
Shigeko Sasamori is one of the few remaining survivors of the first atomic bomb explosion over Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. She came to the United States in 1955, as one of the highly publicized Hiroshima Maidens, a group of Japanese women for whom reconstructive surgery was provided a decade after the war. She says in the film that she had 30 plastic surgery operations, "maybe more." She was adopted by "Saturday Review" editor Norman Cousins and made a career in the U.S. as a maternity nurse.
Her story is featured in a new (August 2007) documentary, available on DVD and throughout this month on the HBO Signature channel. The film "White Light, Black Rain" was directed by Steven Okazaki, who won an Academy Award in 1990 for "Days of Waiting," a film about one of the few Caucasians to be interned with Japanese-Americans during the war.
As featured in this new production, subtitled "The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," Shigeko Sasamori is one of a handful of survivors interviewed in depth about her personal story -- where she was, what she saw and what she suffered after the "pillar of fire" engulfed her.
The contentious ending to the World War II, involving as it did the only use of atomic weapons in war, is of fundamental interest, not least to the people of Los Alamos, who have inherited part of the legacy of those events.
[Time and location of the event are here.]