Opinions split on whether or not to remove mannequins from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum


On March 14, Hiroshima City announced tentative plans to remove molded plastic mannequins depicting the horrors of the atomic bombing from its Peace Memorial Museum by 2016. The proposed removal is in line with a review suggesting displays within the facility be switched to include more that depict actual articles belonging to the deceased and other real items from the period. Opinions from visitors to the museum are split on whether or not the mannequins should be removed.

The three mannequins in question are of an adult woman, a college-aged woman, and a small boy shown wondering through the blast aftermath in a severely burned state. Originally made from wax, the mannequins have been on display at the museum since 1973, and in their current form since 1991.

The topic of their removal came up at the city council’s budget meeting on the 14th. One of the council members stated, “A questionnaire conducted by a travel agency reveals that some people have found the display frightening.”

But, isn’t that the point?

Yoshifumi Ishida, who is in charge of ensuring education about the horrific event continues, said, “We are considering a policy stipulating the mannequins would not be displayed after renovations are completed.” The museum is scheduled to undergo improvements in fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Behind the planned removal lies a basic policy formulated in 2010 by a commission of experts who reviewed and debated the merits of the museum’s displays. These guidelines suggest more emphasis should be placed on displaying real items such as roof tiles and items belong to the deceased. Concrete exhibit plans are to be finalized this month.

It’s not rare for Hiroshima children who have visited the museum as part to their peace studies to continue talking about how frightening the mannequins were for many years. However, opinions from museum visitors are split on the subject of their removal. Lamenting their potential removal, Miyoko Nakazato, 77, who was visiting the museum from Tokorozawa City, Saitama, on March 14, said, “The mannequins are necessary for conveying the horrible realities of the bombing.” Meanwhile, Shotaro Higashi, a college student from Tsuru City in Yamanashi, opined, “Actual pictures and relics from the bombing leave a stronger impression. Displays with imitations aren’t needed.”

Source: Chugoku Shimbun

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  • 3


    The Nagasaki museum is much better and modernly designed, with some very informative video interviews built into the display. They should take their cues from that design.

  • 5


    I think they should keep them. Showing damaged objects only in my opinion dehumanizes the tragedy and makes it too easy to be awed at the destructive power of the bomb and to forget that the bomb actually affected human beings. These mannequins help to evoke in visitors all the pain and suffering that the bomb caused.

    Yes, they are disturbing and frightening, but that is the POINT. The should be, because what happened there was disturbing and frightening. Just showing the impact on objects actually runs a risk of people finding it "cool" to see melted roof tiles and the like. This is not what the museum should be about.

  • 3


    I visited the museum during the first week of my 5 year long stay in Japan.. and I was left completely speechless by the experience. I remember seeing these mannequins and thinking "holy crap, is that what actually happened?!" coupled with more pictures of victims - one that still haunts me to this day, a school girl with her face burned off, her FACE BURNED OFF!! , roof tiles, the dark spot on that concrete step, the tricycle, the watch stopped at 8:15.. and probably one of the more gruesome ones, a glass box containing the finger tips (nails and all) off a victim who literally sucked his fingers off trying to get water..

    it's all part of the reality of what happened that day.. removing mannequins because some tourists think its frightening isn't going to change that. Us in the west know the Hiroshima mushroom cloud, but few really know what it looked like on the ground.

    I say keep them

  • 2


    If the mannequins educate, they belong there. No part of a visit to that particular museum should be a pleasant experience.

  • 2


    The world needs to stop desensitization of issues like this and let it stand for what it was made for. To remind everyone and anyone why war shouldn't happen.

  • 1


    I agree with the Nagasaki museum opinion.

  • -1


    I think it rather trite of Japan to call its monument to victimhood and self pity a 'Peace Museum' even as it denies its own atrocities to the rest of the world. By all means the mannequins should educate us on the horrors of nuclear war. But a true peace museum would give equal recognition to the victims of Japan's imperialist rampage that resulted in the atomic bombings.

  • 2


    I agree with budgie. Of course what happened to Japan was horrible, but they should also explain what led up to it to clarify that Japan was not an innocent victim. There were several warnings prior to the bombings and Japan was a huge threat to the rest of the world alongside with Nazi Germany.

  • 0


    I am with Kchoze. If possible, make it even more frightening!

  • 1

    Christopher Blackwell

    People should be frightened and disgusted by the displays. Anyone who was a victim of the attack went through hell and it should not be made to like like it was not. next thing you know someone will suggest cute little disney characters skipping through scenes of ruin. Remember most who died were not military personal fighting war, but civilians who had absolutely no say so over what their government was doing. That is what make such a horrible death even more terrible. In any war the great majority of those killed are not soldiers, but totally innocent civilians.This is true of all wars past and present, regardless of the countries fighting them. If we have to candy coat the past, then how will we ever learn the lessons and stop repeating the mistakes.

    Trying to hide the full horror of death by nuclear bombs would be similar to taking out the gruesome exhibits from the holocaust museum. As long as any country has nuclear weapons, there remains the danger that more civilians will die because of them. If a country spends much money on military, then it will have to find wars to fight, to justify the expense. So far only one country has ever used nuclear weapons do you want that on Japan's conscious some day. Ask that before you gain nuclear weapons. Afterward it is only a question of when will it happen.

  • 0

    Yukie Hara

    I think the mannequins shouldn't be removed. I'm Japanese and some of my families are the victims of atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Since I was little, my grand parents told me the stories of their experiences. Wandering in the city trying to find their daughter, they saw many dead people, and severely injured people. They told me again and again how horrible it was. The stories made me imagine the views and people in Hiroshima, and I was scared. But when I saw the mannequins in the museum, it stroked me. My imagination became "real"! The mannequins are not real, but it can give us a strong message.

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