Human Shadow Etched in Stone

Coordinates: 34°23′30.5″N 132°27′7.5″E / 34.391806°N 132.452083°E / 34.391806; 132.452083
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Human Shadow Etched in Stone
Photograph by Yoshito Matsushige. A journalist's legs were included to provide context to the scene.[1]
Used for those deceased
Location34°23′30.5″N 132°27′7.5″E / 34.391806°N 132.452083°E / 34.391806; 132.452083
Japan Hiroshima Prefecture
Burials by nation
Burials by war

Human Shadow Etched in Stone (人影の石, hitokage no ishi)[2] is an exhibition at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It is thought to be the residue of a person who was sitting at the entrance of Hiroshima Branch of Sumitomo Bank when the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima. It is also known as Human Shadow of Death[1] or simply the Blast Shadow.


According to museum staff, many visitors to the museum believe that the shadow is the outline of a human vaporized immediately after the bombing.[3] However, the possibility of human vaporization is not supported from a medical perspective. The ground surface temperature is thought to have ranged from 3,000 to 4,000 degrees Celsius just after the bombing. Exposing a body to this level of radiant heat would leave bones and carbonized organs behind. While radiation could severely inflame and ulcerate the skin, complete vaporization of the body is impossible.[3]

It is thought that the person had been sitting on the stone step waiting for the bank to open when the heat from the bomb burned the surrounding stone white and left the person's shadow.[4][3] In the seconds following the explosion, the person's body was gradually disintegrated from the outer layers to its skeletal core. The sitting-person hypothesis tends to concur with the geometrical intepretation of the shadow, clearly decreasing in density (in the opposite direction to the Bank entrance) while at the same time exhibiting higher density in its center, corresponding to the symmetries of a seated person. A black deposit was also found on the shadow,[5] - the dark color of ashes resulting from specific cremation temperatures. The outline of the shadow in some regions and different angles between the shadow layers may indicate that the initial shadow was being overlapped with secondary shadows from electromagnetic radiation sources as the Hiroshima bomb was detonating.

In January 1971, part of the stone containing the artifact (3.3 meters wide by 2 meters high) was cut from the original location and moved to the museum.[6] As the shadow had been degraded due to weathering, in April 1975 the museum began research into preserving the shadow.[7] In 1991, the museum reported that earnest investigation of preservation methods had commenced.[8] At present, the stone is surrounded by glass.[9][10]

The person who cast the shadow almost certainly died immediately in the flash of the bomb.[4][11] Witnesses reported seeing a person sitting at the entrance just before the explosion,[12] and a soldier testified he had recovered the person's body.[12] The museum exhibit claimed the shadow belonged to a 42-year-old woman named Mitsuno Ochi (越智ミツノ, Ochi Mitsuno)[12] but conclusive proof of this claim cannot be determined and the victim's identity remains unknown.


Hiroshima Branch of Sumitomo Bank[edit]

Hiroshima Branch of Sumitomo Bank after the bombing. The Human Shadow Etched in Stone was at the steps, near the person standing at the entrance.
The view toward the east from Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce and Industry [ja]. The white building in the center is the main office of Geibi Bank, and the building on the right is the Hiroshima Branch of Sumitomo Bank.
Photograph by U.S. armed forces on November 20, 1945

Human Shadow Etched in Stone was originally part of the stone steps at the entrance of the Hiroshima Branch of Sumitomo Bank, located 260 meters from ground zero.[1][4] The current location of the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Hiroshima Branch is Kamiya-cho 1 Chome.[a]

The bank was built in 1928. It was designed by Kenzō Takekoshi (竹腰健造) at the department of engineering of Sumitomo Group (now Nikken Sekkei), and was constructed by the Obayashi Corporation.[14] The building was constructed out of reinforced concrete, with four floors above ground and one below with an open ceiling up to the third floor. The rooms for business, reception and coinage were on the first floor, the meeting rooms and cafeteria on the fourth floor, and the boiler room in the basement.[14][15] It was built south of the head office of Geibi Bank (Now head office of Hiroshima Bank [ja],) which had been built the year before and was almost the same size. It was designed in a general Romanesque architectural style, and was characterized by a large arch with molding on its front facade.[14]

The building was severely damaged in the bombing of August 6, 1945.[15] Although most of the building's interior was destroyed, the coin room, cash, and passbooks were undamaged.[15] Papers from inside the building were blown as far away as Numata-cho [ja] by the blast.[b][15]

On the morning of the bombing, the bank was to be open as usual. Most of the employees were on their way to the office when the bomb was dropped. There were 29 employees killed immediately (including those in the branch and those on their way to work), 40 were injured and none missing.[15] Some of the survivors died within a few days from radiation sickness, while others worked until retirement.[15] Passersby took refuge in the building as it was close to ground zero, and a large number of bodies were recovered.[15]

After the war, the Hiroshima Branch reopened. "The Human Shadow of Death" and the Atomic Bomb Dome quickly became landmarks for the bomb's destructive power and the loss of life.[17][18] To preserve the shadow, in 1959 Sumitomo Bank built a fence surrounding the stone, and in 1967 the stone was covered with tempered glass to prevent its deterioration.[1][6][19]

The Hiroshima Branch was rebuilt in 1971. The stone steps with the shadow were removed and donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.[1][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The branch had been in Nakajima-Honmachi [ja] before it was transferred to a new building in Kamiya-cho [ja].[13]
  2. ^ According to the online map,[16] it is approximately nine kilometers from ground zero to Numata-cho.


  1. ^ a b c d e "ヒロシマの記録 貴重な「記憶」次代へ" (in Japanese). Chugoku Shimbun. 2004-03-22. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  2. ^ "Human Shadow Etched in Stone". Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on 2021-09-24. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  3. ^ a b c "熱線で「人が蒸発」本当?" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Media Center. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  4. ^ a b c "人影の石" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Archived from the original on 2021-05-14. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  5. ^ "ヒロシマの記録2000 3月" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Media Center. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  6. ^ a b c "ヒロシマの記録1971 1月" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Media Center. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  7. ^ "ヒロシマの記録1975 4月" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Media Center. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  8. ^ "ヒロシマの記録1991 5月" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Media Center. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  9. ^ "針折れる 広島資料館の収蔵資料約2万点、劣化進む". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 2015-12-12. Archived from the original on 2018-10-21. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  10. ^ "オバマ大統領広島訪問直前に巻き起こった原爆資料館批判" (in Japanese). News Post Seven [ja]. 2016-05-25. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  11. ^ "人影の石" (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  12. ^ a b c "「人影の石」説明板に名前追加" (in Japanese). Chugoku Shimbun. 1997-08-02. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  13. ^ A-bombed Buildings Investigation Committee (1996). ヒロシマの被爆建造物は語る (in Japanese). Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. p. 44.
  14. ^ a b c Li, MING; ISHIMARU, Norioki (2006). "The Study on the Activities and Their Features of Architects in Hiroshima Before World War Two: The study on the architects activity form and feature in local city". Journal of Architecture. 71 (608). Architectural Institute of Japan: 197–204. doi:10.3130/aija.71.197_4. ISSN 1340-4210.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Hiroshima City (2005) [1971]. 広島原爆戦災誌 (PDF) (in Japanese). Vol. 3. Hiroshima City. pp. 149–152. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-07-17. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  16. ^ "地理院地図" (in Japanese). Geospatial Information Authority of Japan. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  17. ^ "ヒロシマの記録 消えた「原爆十景」追う" (in Japanese). Chugoku Shimbun. 2007-04-30. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  18. ^ "巻頭言:被爆建物の記憶" (in Japanese). DDK Cooperative (協同組合DDK). 2013. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  19. ^ "1945年8月~被爆した広島、長崎~ 写真特集". Jiji Press. Retrieved 2017-06-15.

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