Life Arises from Hiroshima: Iri and Toshi Maruki painted with trembling hands

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Life Arises after Hiroshima

One of the Hiroshima murals created by Iri and Toshi Maruki

Note from Dr. Wayne Baker: This week, as the world remembers the bombing of Hiroshima, I hope you will widely share this series by international peace trainer and author Daniel Buttry. Here’s the third part of Dan’s series …

Iri and Toshi Maruki who created the Hiroshima Murals

Click on this image of the Maruki to visit an online gallery dedicated to their work.

Iri and Toshi Maruki were a married couple, both artists. They had a gallery outside Tokyo, which includes their Hiroshima Panels, a series of 15 wall-sized paintings on folding screens.

The panels depict the experiences of those in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

The Marukis traveled to the smoldering city a few days after the bombing to search for missing relatives. Their paintings capture the horror, the disorientation, and the anguish of the people of Hiroshima with titles such as: Ghosts, Fire, Water, Mother and Child, Floating Lanterns.

But two paintings show another side of the story.

One depicts crows feasting on the piles of Korean dead left unburied. Around 30,000 Koreans had been used as slave labor in Hiroshima, and bodies identified as Korean were not buried.

The other panel shows the American POWs who survived the bombing only to be torn limb from limb by their captors in rage for the bombing.

The Marukis’ poetic comment: “Our hands tremble as we paint.”

The Marukis presented the anguish of their own selves and their people, but they could also recognize the victimization that still went on against the “other.”

What does it take to recognize and empathetically hold one’s own sorrow as well as the sorrow of those on the other side?

How do we transcend the divide between enemies?

How does hope begin to grow when those who suffer on opposite sides in a conflict can hear the echoes of their own pain in the pain of the other?

Have you ever experienced such transcendence in sorrow?

These Hiroshima stories are painful, yet they are important to share as the world continues to confront nuclear weapons. A DVD set from First Run Features includes both a short animated film narrated by Susan Sarandon and the 1987 Academy Award-nominated documentary about the panels, Hellfire. Here is a brief film clip from the documentary.

A longer video on YouTube, nearly 40 minutes, juxtaposes images of the mural project with Masao Ohki Symphony No. 5 “Hiroshima” (1953).


START A CONVERSATION … You are free to share, repost or print out these columns to start a discussion with friends or in your small group. You may also want to share this new column about worldwide responses to the 70th anniversary.

Care to read more?

Cover Blessed Are the Peacemakers by Daniel ButtryThe Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Buttry is one of the world’s leading peacemakers. You can read more about his work and three of his most popular books here. In addition, Buttry edits his own online magazine, where you fill find more than 100 inspiring profiles of men and women daring to make peace around the world.

This week, as part of his special series on Hiroshima, he has published a special multi-media column that includes six Hiroshima-related music videos.

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