All About Japan

Viewing Wartime Hiroshima with Virtual Reality

| Hiroshima Peace Memorial , Hiroshima
Viewing Wartime Hiroshima with Virtual Reality

Antique posters hang on stores from 75 years ago. Users can even observe a caged animal that was placed in the garden of a hospital at the time. This is what Hiroshima's A-bomb Dome looked like before the destruction.

People used to enjoy views on the city from this Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Students at Fukuyama Technical High School took it upon themselves to create the VR content. The high schoolers recreated buildings using old photos and footage.

Sometimes it would take over two months to make one building.

Sena Hirakawa, the leader of the technical computing research club, says details are important in creating a VR experience. "It needs to be as realistic as possible. Otherwise, people will not believe what they are seeing," he said.

The club interviewed people who used to live in the area. Based on that interview the students decided to create a traditional Japanese Mari ball on the street. Sometimes the students would ask interviewees to check their video for accuracy.

This war survivor was able to recall specific details about what his neighborhood used to look like. Pupils drew sketches based on the interviews. They then created VR content using the drawings. Hirakawa’s great grandfather was also an A-bomb survivor.

"My great grandfather passed away six years ago. I was just twelve years old, and I never really paid attention to his stories about the A-bomb. Now I know that it’s important to listen to survivors. I also think in the near future, it will no longer be possible to hear stories firsthand," Sena said.

Hirakawa and his peers also reenacted a significant event in Hiroshima. On August 6th, 1945 -- a bomber flew across the blue sky. The atomic bomb was dropped – and the city was engulfed in flames. The students hope people around the world will finally be able to see for themselves what really happened in Hiroshima 75 years ago.

Sena added, "We hope the leaders of the nuclear states watch this video. That’s our goal. We want to tell them that we don’t want something like this to ever happen again. We want them to see for themselves the utter horror of such an experience."