5 Things You Didn't Know About the Bombing of Hiroshima

August 6, 1945, is the day the U.S. dropped the "Little Boy" atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan unleashing the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT.  Here are five things you didn't know about the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima...


Little Boy Was 15 Kilotons—Very Small Compared to Some Later Test Bombs # Photo credit: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1866160, photographed 4 April 2006 by User:Surgeonsmate. Little Boy destroyed a city and left a legacy of radiation poisoning—but it was an incredibly small bomb compared to what's been invented since then. To give you an idea of relative bomb strengths, the devastation you see in pictures of post-bomb Hiroshima, and all the personal horror stories that go with those, were caused by a 15-kiloton bomb. Current nuclear bomb strengths far exceed that of Little Boy's, such as the estimated 100 kilotons of a probable test in North Korea in 2017. 

Godzilla Was Created Because of the Bombs # Photo credit: By Taisyo (photo taken by Taisyo) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) U.S. audiences generally know of Godzilla as the poorly edited Americanized version that had footage of Raymond Burr added to an existing film. But the original (distinguished from the Burr version in the U.S. by its romanized name, Gojira) was a serious metaphor for the atomic bombs dropped on the country and a parable about nature's revenge for the devastation. Its 1954 release in Japan—just nine years after the bombings—also came on the heels of an incident in which a Japanese fishing vessel was caught in the fallout from a secret U.S. nuclear test in the South Pacific, making the metaphor even more timely for Japanese audiences. Interestingly, as time went on and Japan's situation improved tremendously, even the Japanese sequels became campy and somewhat humor-based.


Hiroshima Made the Oleander Its Official City Flower After the Bombings. The oleander is native to Asia and is also a common streetside shrub in the southern portions of the U.S. (especially in Southern California), but it holds special significance in Hiroshima. An oleander bush was the first to produce flowers after the bombings, so the city decided to adopt the oleander as the city's official flower.

The Bombs May Not Have Been the Central Reason for the Japanese Surrender. The two bombings certainly hurt Japan; that's not in question, and it's a good bet that the bombings did help usher the country toward surrender. But they may not have been the core reason. The Soviet Union had finally entered World War II's Pacific side in August 1945 after years of fighting on the European front only. The additional declaration of war may have been what really pushed Japan to stop fighting.

A U.S. TV Show Arranged Possibly the Most Awkward and Uncomfortable Reunion Imaginable. This Is Your Life was a show that reunited people with others from their past, usually in heartwarming and funny episodes; those featuring celebrities still make the rounds in snippets online. (Subjects were often somewhat duped into appearing, only to have the real purpose and person-from-the-past appear once they were on live TV.) When a group of Japanese women came to the U.S. in 1955 for surgery for injuries related to the bombing (a.k.a. The Hiroshima Maidens), the man who helped bring the women to the states, Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was himself a survivor and thought he as going on a talk show to discuss the surgery project. Instead, he was surprised by the appearance of the co-pilot of the Enola Gay, which was the plane that carried Little Boy. Tanimoto kept his composure, but no doubt this was not a reunion he was expecting to take part in.

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