A new website uses Google Earth technology combined with historical photographs and personal testimonies for a neighborhood-by-neighborhood view of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in the closing days of World War II.
Developed by Hidenori Watanabe, the "Hiroshima Archive" examines the city in the immediate aftermath of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945.
The 37-year-old Watanabe, an associate professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University, specializes in information design. In 2009, he created a 3-D map of Tuvalu, an island country in the South Pacific.
By placing photographs and remarks from the islanders on an interactive map, he conveyed to the world the reality of the island nation that is facing the threat of sinking into the sea because of rising ocean levels due to global warming.
The grandchild of a survivor of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki saw the Tuvalu site and asked Watanabe to create something similar about Nagasaki. Watanabe poured over recollections and old photographs of the events surrounding the Aug. 9, 1945, bombing of Nagasaki. His students helped him organize the information that became the basis for an interactive map that steps back in time 67 years. A sister site on Hiroshima naturally followed.
Immediately after Watanabe embarked on the job, however, the Great East Japan Earthquake rocked northeastern Japan. The 9.0-magnitude temblor spawned a massive deadly tsunami that washed away communities along the Sanriku Coast, which stretches from northern Miyagi Prefecture to Iwate Prefecture.
With his Hiroshima project completed, Watanabe is now hard at work to make an interactive map of the Sanriku Coast immediately after the events of March 11, 2011.
"I now feel it is my duty to make communities of memories,” Watanabe says.
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