Murals depicting the atomic attack are in danger of being lost to public view

As thousands prepare to gather in Hiroshima today to remember the 60th anniversary of the nuclear destruction of that city, one memorial to the atomic bomb is increasingly forgotten.

The Hiroshima murals, a series of folding-screen panels depicting victims of the bomb painted over 30 years, are drawing fewer and fewer visitors.

The Maruki gallery that houses the horrific artwork, painted by a couple who visited Hiroshima immediately after the attack, has fallen on hard times in the years since its successful opening in 1967. Visitors to Japan's version of Picasso's Guernica have dwindled from a peak of 64,000 a year in the mid-1980s to fewer than 14,000 last year, threatening the gallery's finances.

The lack of public interest reflects fading awareness of the actual events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the second world war. The specifics are blurring even though the abstract notion that Japan is the world's only victim of atomic destruction still defines the country's social and political thinking, expressed in its pacifist constitution.

Source: Financial Times (London) 8-6-05
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