The Story of a Hiroshima Atom Bomb Survivor
Toshiko Tanaka, Reiko Tashiro
Please note that all attendees are required to wear masks for the duration of this event.
Born on October 18, 1938, in Hiroshima City, Japan. On August 6th, 1945 At the age of six, Toshiko was exposed to the atomic bomb while on her way to school, 1.4 miles from the hypocentre in Ushita District, Hiroshima City. Though seriously injured in the blast with severe burns to her arms and neck, Toshiko miraculously survived. Up until one week prior her family had lived in Nakajima district, in direct proximity to the epicenter of the blast. It is thought that all her classmates from the school she attended died in the bombing. Out of a desire that the world should never again experience the destructive power of nuclear weapons, Toshiko first started sharing her personal trauma and testimony at the age of 70.
A professional Artist, Toshiko devised a new art form of large mural combining enamel with stainless steel. For nearly 50 years her award winning artwork has been exhibited at numerous Japanese and international exhibitions. Through her art, Toshiko has been actively involved in peace activities, education, and exhibitions around the world. Examples of Toshiko’s peace work include her visits to 80 countries with Peace Boat (a Japan-based international NGO) and her visits to high schools in New York City between 2009 – 2015 with Hibakusha Stories (a U.S. based NGO).
In 2015, Toshiko’s work was recognised with the 12th Donne Per La Solidarieta (Women of International Contribution) Award from the City of Pisa, Italy. In 2022, Toshiko was involved in the Gardens for Peace project in which 17 gardens across the U.S. participated. As part of the project, her work, ‘pattern for peace’ was raked on a Japanese rock garden commemorating the United Nations International Day of Peace.
Reiko grew up watching her mother’s devotion for peace through art. In 1983 while studying in the U.S. as an exchange student, she was shocked to find out that the consequences of the atomic bomb were not taught in schools. She was determined to pass on the survivors’ voices as a second generation hibakusha.
Currently Reiko supports her mother Toshiko Tanaka’s peace activities, including her testimonies at high schools in the U.S. and her participation in the series of events in Oslo, 2017 relating to the Nobel Peace Prize Award ceremony for ICAN and hibakusha.
As chapter president of an exchange program, Reiko has implemented peace education programs for high school students coming to Japan. Realizing the substantial influence of ‘culture’ in promoting peace has led her to the field of intercultural education. She is currently a cross-cultural trainer with AFS International, a global educational NGO, for students as well as general audience and businesspeople in Japan.
University of Connecticut’s School of Law, Office of Diversity, Belonging and Community Engagement; and the College of East Asian Studies, Department of History, and Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, at Wesleyan University