Atomic Heritage Foundation

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Join Today as an Atomic History Patron Member

Surviving the Bomb

Surviving the Bomb

Grade Level: 
Hiroshima in March 1946


Through various creative writing assignments, students examine the complicated history of bomb survivors.





Though the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts produced hundreds of thousands of casualties, some Japanese citizens survived the blasts. One of them—Tsutomu Yamaguchi—miraculously survived both blasts and lived to be 93 years old (he recently passed away in January 2010). Students should first use the Internet to research Yamaguchi to get a better understanding of his life story. They should then consult the Children of the Atomic Bomb website hosted by UCLA to better understand the physical and mental suffering that blast victims endured.

After researching both angles, students should complete one of the suggested three writing assignments:

  1. Imagine that you are Tsutomu Yamaguchi writing a diary entry after you are discharged from the hospital following the second blast. Using primary accounts of the visual effects of the blast, compile a diary entry describing the scene of the blast and Yamaguchi’s feelings about surviving the blast and about the destruction around him.
  2. Compile an obituary for Tsutomu Yamaguchi detailing his life story and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  3. Write a newspaper article about the "human face" of atomic blasts, using Yamaguchi in the introductory paragraph. Write primarily about the physical and mental effects of the blasts on civilians, consulting the UCLA website for facts. Include a section explaining why the story is relevant to current disarmament debates.