Twiced Bombed

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, Survivor of 2 Atomic Blasts, Dies at 93

By Mark McDonald

  • Jan. 6, 2010
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Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only official survivor of both atomic blasts to hit Japan in World War II, died Monday in Nagasaki, Japan. He was 93. The cause was stomach cancer, his family said.

Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the so-called Little Boy device detonated above the city.

Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than two miles away from ground zero that day. His eardrums were ruptured, and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to Nagasaki, his hometown, the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people.

Mr. Yamaguchi was in his Nagasaki office, telling his boss about the Hiroshima blast, when “suddenly the same white light filled the room,” he said in an interview last March with the British newspaper The Independent.

“I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me from Hiroshima,” he said.

Japan surrendered six days after the Nagasaki attack.

Mr. Yamaguchi recovered from his wounds, went to work for the American occupation forces, became a teacher and eventually returned to work at Mitsubishi.

There were believed to have been about 165 twice-bombed people, known as nijyuu hibakusha, although municipal officials in both cities have said that Mr. Yamaguchi was the only person to be officially acknowledged as such.

One of his daughters, Toshiko Yamasaki, who was born in 1948, said her mother had also been “soaked in black rain and was poisoned” by the fallout from the Nagasaki blast. Her mother died in 2008 from kidney and liver cancer. She was 88.

“We think she passed the poison on to us,” Ms. Yamasaki said, noting that her brother died of cancer at 59 and that her sister has been chronically ill throughout her life.

In his later years Mr. Yamaguchi spoke out against atomic weapons, though he had earlier avoided joining antinuclear protests because of the attention he might have attracted, Ms. Yamasaki told The Independent. “He was so healthy, he thought it would have been unfair to people who were really sick,” she added.

Mr. Yamaguchi rarely gave interviews, but he wrote a memoir and was part of a 2006 documentary about the double bombing survivors. He called for the abolition of nuclear weapons at a showing of the documentary, “Niju Hibaku” (“Twice Bombed”), at the United Nations that year.

At a lecture he gave in Nagasaki last June, Mr. Yamaguchi said he had written to President Obama about banning nuclear arms. And he was recently visited by the American film director James Cameron to discuss a film project on atomic bombs, Ms. Yamasaki said.

Mr. Yamaguchi was philosophical about his surviving the blasts. “I could have died on either of those days,” he told The Mainichi Daily News of Japan in August. “Everything that follows is a bonus.”

American Witness - Robert Frank

An interesting read about one of “America’s” most innovative photographers who sadly passed away in 2019.  He was born in Switzerland but never really fit the mold of the good Swiss citizen.  He was Jewish and was only granted citizenship by the Swiss Government after WWII.  Soon after he left for America.  While traveling all over South America and Europe, New York City was his home base.  He did commercial work only as a means to survive.  He was a true non-conformist in this regard. Odd fact - he once was hired to shoot publicity stills for the Three Stooges!

He applied and received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his project to document America.  He was given about $3800 to do this project.  He bought a 1940’s businessmen’s Ford - no back seat which was great as he could carry all his equipment.  And off he headed.

While in Arkansas he was jailed for suspicion of……. just suspicion.  The police didn’t like that he had a foreign accent, was Jewish and had camera equipment.  He was fingerprinted and they were sent to the FBI.  At this time there was a lot of concern for communist spies like the Rosenbergs.  They finally let him go when he showed them an article he’d done for Fortune magazine!

After getting all the pictures edited and thinned into a manageable book he was turned down by several American publishing houses.  His friend, Msr. Delpine in Paris agreed to publish it.  Initially Walker Evans was going to write the intro but then Frank fell in with the likes of Jack Kerouac who eventually got the nod to write.

In 1959 the book finally was published and then soon after was picked up by a small American publishing house, Grove Press who was instrumental in getting the book out here in states

There is this urban legend that the book was panned.  It was in the popular photography magazines but it garnered praise from more intellectual quarters.  The popular press was not at all used to his style of photography - not every picture was perfectly in focus.  The pacing of the book was unlike anything seen before and was not like the usual 10 page layout that you might see in Life or Look magazine.  There was no beginning, middle and end.  Each photo stood by itself. There also was the factor that many editors felt that Frank was criticizing the US of A when that was not the intent.

I have often said that to me this is THE best photography book ever published.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy and decide for yourself.

75th Anniversary of the A Bomb

These are images shot by Magnum photographer Wayne Miller a month after the dropping of the A bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Tomorrow ( our time) is the 75th anniversary of this event.  The decision to drop the bomb was to say the least very complicated. The observation from the troops on the ground that the Japanese were maniacal in their defense of the islands surrounding Japan combined with the knowledge that surrender would come only after an assault on mainland Japan.

Did we HAVE to insist on unconditional surrender?  This is the point where presentism has to be discussed.  Do we judge historical events by today’s standard or those that existed at the time?  Emperor Hirohito was considered a living deity in Japan and it was felt that unless he was forced to renounce his position as a deity , a conditional surrender would not work.  Additional pressures to use the bomb came from the fact that Russia in the 11th hour declared war on Japan and Truman wanted no part of Russia asking for territory from Japan.  

It is worth noting that 100,000 had perished in Tokyo in March, 1945 from firebombing.  With some rationality, General Curtis Lemay declared 100,000 dead didn’t matter if it was by conventional vs. nuclear weapon.  

Having recently visited Hiroshima I was struck by how the Japanese, took less than direct responsibility for their part in starting the WWII in the Pacific.  This is just cultural in that direct confrontation of the facts is best avoided.  I didn’t realize this until I returned from the trip and started reading about their culture. Speaking of our culture - some point to the fact that because it was Japan - home of the yellow man - that it was ok to use the bomb.  Well Germany had already surrendered so we will never know if we would have used it against Hitler.  It is true that we did not intern German Americans like we did with Japanese Americans.   To say the least the whole issue is multi-faceted with no clear cut answers leaving people to have opinions of differing shades.

The Japanese use this time every year to push for Peace in general and I think we can all get behind this idea.

Here are a few photos from my visit

Old Fast film

This roll of film was many years out of date Ilford 3200 that I shot at 1000.  Tweaked a bit in post.  Grain is very visible but not unpleasant.  Add a little more contrast and I’d be replicating the look of some the Japanese masters of photography like Daido.  This style is call ” Are, Bure, Bokeh”  roughly translated as ’ grainy, blurry , out of focus’.

My YouTube Diet is terribly unbalanced - Help!

So here’s the problem - before bed I like to check out a few videos on You Tube.  Recently I’ve gone into a rut and You Tube’s algorithm will start to feed you more and more of the stuff you like .  There’s no balance.  There’s no mother hen saying “Ernie you’ve had enough Karen videos for one nite”

So here are the current offerings.

This is Coco and Lulu. Cute dachshunds . 

Next offering is so weird because I don’t fly a plane but I like watching these videos

The most disturbing are the ‘Karen’ videos featuring a middle aged white woman going on a rampage

All of this usually requires me to take a CBD gummy to relax!!!!

Leica, Jews and the Nazis

An interesting article worth a read

The Leica is the pioneer 35mm camera. It is a German product - precise, minimalist, and utterly efficient.

Behind its worldwide acceptance as a creative tool was a family-owned, socially oriented firm that, during the Nazi era, acted with uncommon grace, generosity and modesty. E. Leitz Inc., designer and manufacturer of Germany’s most famous photographic product, saved its Jews.

And Ernst Leitz II, the steely-eyed Protestant patriarch who headed the closely held firm as the Holocaust loomed across Europe , acted in such a way as to earn the title, “the photography industry’s Schindler.”

As soon as Adolf Hitler was named chancellor of Germany in 1933, Ernst Leitz II began receiving frantic calls from Jewish associates, asking for his help in getting them and their families out of the country. As Christians, Leitz and his family were immune to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg laws, which restricted the movement of Jews and limited their professional activities.

To help his Jewish workers and colleagues, Leitz quietly established what has become known among historians of the Holocaust as “the Leica Freedom Train,” a covert means of allowing Jews to leave Germany in the guise of Leitz employees being assigned overseas.

Employees, retailers, family members, even friends of family members were “assigned” to Leitz sales offices in France, Britain, Hong Kong and the United States, Leitz’s activities intensified after the Kristallnacht of November 1938, during which synagogues and Jewish shops were burned across

Before long, German “employees” were disembarking from the ocean liner Bremen at a New York pier and making their way to the Manhattan office of Leitz Inc., where executives quickly found them jobs in the photographic industry.

Each new arrival had around his or her neck the symbol of freedom - a new Leica camera.

The refugees were paid a stipend until they could find work. Out of this migration came designers, repair technicians, salespeople, marketers and writers for the photographic press.

Keeping the story quiet The “Leica Freedom Train” was at its height in 1938 and early 1939, delivering groups of refugees to New York every few weeks. Then, with the invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Germany closed its borders.

By that time, hundreds of endangered Jews had escaped to America, thanks to the Leitzes’ efforts. How did Ernst Leitz II and his staff get away with it?

Leitz, Inc. was an internationally recognized brand that reflected credit on the newly resurgent Reich. The company produced cameras, range-finders and other optical systems for the German military. Also, theNazi government desperately needed hard currency from abroad, and Leitz’s single biggest market for optical goods was the United States.

Even so, members of the Leitz family and firm suffered for their good works. A top executive, Alfred Turk, was jailed for working to help Jews and freed only after the payment of a large bribe.

Leitz’s daughter, Elsie Kuhn-Leitz, was imprisoned by the Gestapo after she was caught at the border, helping Jewish women cross into Switzerland . She eventually was freed but endured rough treatment in the course of questioning. She also fell under suspicion when she attempted to improvethe living conditions of 700 to 800 Ukrainian slave laborers, all of them women, who had been assigned to work in the plant during the 1940s.

(After the war, Kuhn-Leitz received numerous honors for her humanitarian efforts, among them the Officier d’honneur des Palms Academic from France in 1965and the Aristide Briand Medal from the European Academy in the 1970s.)

Why has no one told this story until now? According to the late Norman Lipton, a freelance writer and editor, the Leitz family wanted no publicity for its heroic efforts. Only after the last member of the Leitz family was dead did the “Leica Freedom Train” finally come to light.

Buffalo Creek Ranch

Buffalo Creek Ranch just outside of FairPlay, Colorado is the living , breathing spirit of LandLibrary. Please check out what they’re doing.

Their missions:

The Rocky Mountain Land Library’s mission is to help connect people to nature and the land.

The need for places of quiet thought, creative pursuits, and active community involvement will only grow as our population increases. The residential library we will establish will give everyone access not only to the books, but also to the surrounding lands — a learning landscape for generations to come.

Once you get out to Buffalo Creek it is so peaceful

Monument Rock

This is the cover photo for my self-published book Prairie Madness.  It was selected for Special Mention at CPAC Member’s Photo exhibit.  It was also selected to show at the All Colorado Art Show in Englewood, CO

Riverside Cemetery

On July 4th we got up early an made a pilgrimage of sorts to Denver’s Riverside Cemetery.  I’m not being cute when I say this is a ‘dead’ cemetery in that burial plots are no longer being sold.  They lost their Platte River water rights in the early 2000’s and now whatever grows there does so by the rain that falls there.

It is however a very historic cemetery for the city of Denver and Colorado.  I went there to look for two graves that are connected by the Sand Creek Massacre of 1864.  Col. Chivington descended on a group of mostly women and children who were supposed to be under the protection of the United States.  They were slaughtered.  The attack was approved by the then territorial governor, John Evans.  They called it a battle but because of Silas Soule it was immediately known that it was a massacre.  Soule was part of the Colorado Militia under Chivington’s command and he refused to engage the Indian settlement.  

Both Soule and John Evans are buried at Riverside.

Not well seen, the Evans memorial has been spray painted and I”m sure it’s not the first or last time.  On the other hand Soule’s grave is decorated - he is considered a hero of Sand Creek - not only for not engaging but also because he filed a complaint against Chivington allowing the truth to start to seep out.  For his bravery he was gunned down on the streets of Denver after this event - no doubtedly because of his role in setting the record straight.

Throwback to 2003

Just scanning negatives from 2003 and spotted these that  I thought might be nice to put them up on IG and here.  They were all shot in Color but after 17 years the color has mutated which I  was surprised at.  So when this happens I take the images into BW and they are still quite usable.  The first set of images are of an air raid siren that they still use to summon the volunteer fire folks.  This is in Fayetteville, NY.  The rest of the images are from the cemetery in Fayetteville.

Simla Cemetery

I made a trip back to Simla where I was born.  Another chance to take pictures on the plains.  Highway 24 which takes you from Colorado Springs to Simla has really gotten busy.  People are living along this route whereas every 10 years ago there was really nothing between Colorado Springs and Calhan, Ramah and Simla

U.S. Route 24 (US 24) is one of the original United States highways of 1926.[1] It originally ran from Pontiac, Michigan, in the east to Kansas City, Missouri, in the west. Today, the highway’s northern terminus is in Independence Township, Michigan, at an intersection with I-75 and its western terminus is near Minturn, Colorado at an intersection with I-70. The highway transitions from north–south to east–west signage in Toledo, Ohio.

Another Camera I wish I still Had - Xpan

I have been scanning some of the negatives that I shot with the Xpan and wish I still had this camera.  To buy one on the used market is very expensive - at around $3-4,000.  Fuji made the camera and sold it under their name, Hasselblad sold a version that was just rebadged.  You loaded 35 mm film and you could either shoot a standard format negative or a panorama all on the same roll.  The lenses were slow at f/4 but this usually means they are very sharp which they were. 

Are, Bure, Boke

While reading an issue of Aperture, 2015 about Tokyo I ran across the phrase that is used to describe the style of Daido Moriyama - roughly translated as ’ grainy, blurry , out of focus’. When I saw it I immediately knew this was perfect.


Some pretty wild weather here on Saturday.  The day started out gray and overcast but was decent enough that I went out to High Plains Raceway to watch some open lapping with my friend Tom.  Things changed in the afternoon!!

Amache Camp and the Japanese - American Photographers

This blog entry started off as so many do with a random, chance discovery.  While reading Aperture there was a small note about a Japanese American photographer, Tosh Matsumoto who had been interned at the Amache Camp during WWII.  So was Yasuhiro Ishimoto who I talked about in a previous Blog note.  With only 10,000 estimated internees, to have two who went on to become notable photographers is worth another blog note.

Yasuhiro Ishimoto

Ishimoto was born on June 14, 1921 in San Francisco, California, where his parents were farmers. In 1924, the family left the United States and returned to his parents’ hometown within present-day Tosa, in Kōchi Prefecture, Japan. After Ishimoto graduated from Kōchi Agricultural High School, he returned to the United States in 1939, studying architecture at Northwestern University in Chicago for two years. Though he did not complete this program, architecture would hold an important place in his photography. 

From 1942 to 1944, he was interned with other Japanese Americans at the Amache Internment Camp (also known as Granada Relocation Center) in Colorado. It was here that he began to learn photography.

Returning to Chicago, in 1946 Ishimoto joined the Fort Dearborn Camera Club for amateur filmmakers and photographers there. He enrolled in the Photography Department of the Chicago Institute of Design in 1948 (later the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology) and studied with Harry M. Callahan and Aaron Siskind, graduating in 1952. During this time, he won numerous photography awards, including the Moholy-Nagy Prize, which he won twice.

Ishimoto returned to Japan to live in 1953 and that same year, on a commission from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, he photographed Katsura Imperial Villa (Katsura rikyū) in Kyoto, working in black-and-white. Work from this assignment eventually was published as the book, Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture (sometimes shortened to Katsura) in 1960. The book has texts by Walter Gropius and Tange Kenzō.
Ishimoto’s work was chosen by Edward Steichen to appear in the Family of Man exhibition and catalogue at the Museum of Modern Art in 1955, and Steichen also selected his work for a three-person exhibition in 1961.

From 1958 to 1961, Ishimoto lived and worked in Chicago on a Minolta fellowship. His photographs from this time, mostly street scenes, were eventually published in 1969 as Chicago, Chicago. After having returned to Japan in 1961, Ishimoto became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1969. During the 1960s, he taught photography at Kuwasawa Design School, the Tokyo College of Photography and, between 1966 and 1971, at Tokyo Zokei University.
Ishimoto travelled and photograph widely, visiting Southwest Asia in 1966, and South America, North Africa and Australia for three months in 1975. The following year he made trips to Iran, Iraq and Turkey and in 1977 he again visited Turkey, also travelling to Spain and India. He visited China in 1978.

With photographs taken at the temple Tō-ji (also known as Kyōō Gokokuji) in Kyoto, Ishimoto produced an exhibition in 1977 called Den Shingonin Ryōkai Mandala (The Mandalas of the Two Worlds). His photography was later used in a very lavish publication of the same title.
Between 1973 and 1993 Ishimoto produced a number of in-camera color abstractions that appeared as covers for the Japanese magazine Approach. In 1980, at the Museum of Modern Art, he photographed Monet’s Water Lilies in detail and full size. 

Ishimoto returned to Katsura in 1982 and took another series of photographs, this time with many in color, often using the same or very similar views to those of his 1953 photographs at the same location. Work from this project was published in Katsura Villa: Space and Form.
His more recent photography dealt with the transitory nature of life as shown in his photographs of clouds, footprints in melting snow and fallen leaves. This theme was also evident in his photographs of Ise Shrine (also known as Ise Jingū), which he was permitted to photograph in 1993. This ancient Shinto shrine is torn down and rebuilt every twenty years. 

Ishimoto participated in many exhibitions, including New Japanese Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in 1974, solo shows in 1960 and 1999 at the Art Institute of Chicago, a retrospective in 1989–1990 at Seibu Museum of Art in Tokyo, and an exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, in 1996.
Ishimoto’s many awards include winning the Young Photographer’s Contest, Life magazine (1950); the photographer of the year award, Japan Photo Critics Association (1957); the Mainichi Art Award (1970); the annual award (1978, 1990) and distinguished contribution award (1991) of the Photographic Society of Japan; and governmental medals of honour (1983, 1993). In 1996 the Japanese government named Ishimoto a Person of Cultural Merit, an honour that includes a lifelong stipend. In 2004 Ishimoto donated his archive of seven thousand images, valued at 1.4 billion yen, to the Museum of Art, Kochi. In English, Yasuhiro Ishimoto signed his name “Yas Ishimoto”. See examples.
Ishimoto died at the age of 90 on February 6, 2012, after being hospitalized the month before for a stroke. 

Tosh Matsumoto

Born in California, Tosh was also interred at Amache Camp.  With a camera and time on his hands he learned photography eventually becoming notable in 1947 to the editors of Popular Photography in the April edition.  

For about 10 years Tosh worked as an art photographer but then transitioned into commercial photography.  Here are some of his photos from that period of time

Issei Suda and Japanese Photography

On Memorial Day, today I received ‘78’ Issei Suda’s last photo book = published posthumously.  Researching his style he is set apart from the other more famous Japanese photographers of his era.  He blossomed late in life and to a certain extent his appreciation is continuing to grow.  He was never a part of revolutionary groups - like those participating in PROVOKE like Daido and Araki.

In an interview with Ferdinand Brueggemann, a Japanese photography specialist the maturation of the photographer there is different than in the US or Europe.  Typically the western photographer hopes to get a gallery showing with book appearances occurring much later.

Books by photographers are second only to photography exhibitions in terms of their importance for the reception of Japanese photography. Books by photographers are of much greater importance in Japan than in the West. In Japan, artists have traditionally presented their works to the public by means of their books and magazines and – as was previously mentioned – young artists are still more likely to have a publisher than a gallerist.  -Ferdinand Brueggemann

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