Student with VR goggles and Hiroshima film

School students recreate Hiroshima bombing in VR

Image credit: Press Association/Haruka Nuga

Japanese high school students have released a virtual reality (VR) film recreating the detonation of the first atomic bomb to be used in warfare to mark the 73rd anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.

On 6 August 1945, the American Enola Gay bomber dropped “Little Boy” over Hiroshima, immediately destroying 90 per cent of the city, killing 80,000 people (nearly one third of the population) in the blast and following firestorm, and injuring a further 70,000. The attack was followed by a second atomic bomb, “Fat Man”, being dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 people. Japan surrendered days later, formally putting an end to the Second World War.

Now, a group of school students belonging to a computer club at Fukuyama Technical High School, which is 100km from Hiroshima, has presented a five-minute VR film recreating the city before, during and immediately after the bombing. The film was released today to mark 73 years since the bombing.

The film depicts the tranquillity of a riverside part of the city before the blast, as a single plane flies overhead. Next comes a blinding flash of light and a noisy blast. Once the blast passes, previously pristine buildings are shown to be flattened or reduced to skeletons while fires burn in the city, which has in an instant been transformed into a wasteland.

The students studied old photographs of the city and interviewed survivors, in order to recreate pre-bomb Hiroshima. The survivors also gave their feedback on the VR film, and reportedly described the final cut of the film as “very nostalgic”.

“Even without language, once you see the images, you understand,” said Mei Okada, a student, in an interview with the Press Association. “That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience.”

“When I was creating the buildings before the atomic bomb fell and after, I saw many photos of buildings that were gone. I really felt how scary atomic bombs can be,” Yuhi Nakagawa, another student, told PA. “So while creating this scenery, I felt it was really important to share this with others.”

The Fukuyama students said that they hope their VR film will help ensure that nothing similar occurs again.

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