In Hiroshima water is the element that binds life and death. The seven rivers that flow through the city gave it the name City of Water. Scattered around this huge metropolitan city are monuments to the dead - those who perished both in the moment, and also the aftermath, of the detonation of a nuclear weapon by American forces on 6th August 1945.
These monuments mark the places where schools, hospitals and municipal buildings once stood - remnants of the old city tucked away in the shadows of the towering steel and glass buildings of the new Hiroshima. At these monuments, visitors give offerings of water to those who perished; those who begged for water to sooth their scorched mouths and those who threw themselves into the rivers to relieve their burning skin. For Hiroshi Hara, these are the ‘Rivers of Souls’, where he makes tribute to the dead by painting with what he calls the ‘spirit water’.
Across the city Buddhist rituals take place on the great day of remembrance when monuments are washed with water and messages to souls lost are floated down the rivers.
This is not simply a historical documentary. These personal stories are presented in the knowledge that the world is experiencing increasingly heated and dangerous rhetoric from nuclear armed countries. In this new age of sabre-rattling and heightened nationalism, the potential for a new arms race, or at worst; conflict seems ever more possible. Not since the height of the Cold War has international nuclear disarmament seemed so far away.
To this day the only people who can speak directly about the experience of suffering a nuclear attack are survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The survivors themselves, the Hibakusha, are old now and their health failing. They are anxious that their experiences and the memory of such events must never be forgotten.