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03 April 2018

Hiroshima atomic bomb brick donated to Cambridge University Press

On Friday, 23 March 2018, the Press hosted a visit from Rebun Kayo, a Research Fellow from the University of Hiroshima in Japan. 

In 1952, Cambridge University Press made a donation of books to help the rebuilding of Hiroshima University Central Library following an appeal from Tatsuo Morito, its then President. To mark the anniversary of Tatsuo Morito’s birth, Mr Kayo visited Cambridge to pay his respects and offer thanks for the book donation. 

Mr Kayo collects objects related to the atomic explosion in Hiroshima to promote peace around the world. During the visit, which included lunch with Peter Phillips and a visit to the Press Museum, Mr Kayo presented the Press with a photo of the books donated in 1951, as well as two salvaged fragments of brick from the industrial hall which is now the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The ruined hall was the only building left still standing close to the hypocentre of the atomic explosion on 6 August 1945, and serves as a memorial to the 140,000 people who were killed. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. 

Mr Kayo’s work also includes a project with the surviving victims, who are now very elderly. To help them communicate their thoughts to the next generation about an event many of them do not wish to describe in words, they have been given the opportunity to create art which reflects their feelings. Mr Kayo presented the Press with two of these artworks by survivors, small ceramic bowls which incorporate stones from the Motoyasu River next to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. 

Peter Phillips presented Mr Kayo with a framed copy of the 1952 letter from Tatsuo Morito thanking the Press’s Michael Black for the gift, which Dr Rosalind Grooms, Press Archivist, discovered in the Press Archive. Mr Kayo was deeply moved by the gift and by the knowledge that Michael Black had been recently made aware of this wonderful follow up to the Press’s donation in 1952. Michael Black had only been at the Press a short time when he approved this donation and went on to be one of the most important figures in the Press’s twentieth century publishing.

Peter Phillips, Chief Executive, said: ‘It was an honour to meet Mr Kayo and his colleagues and to receive these extraordinary gifts to remember the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima. I was deeply moved by the spirit of reconciliation from the original donation in 1952 that has continued to this present day. These poignant items, which will be displayed in the Press Museum, will serve as reminders not only of the devastation of the first atomic bomb, but also of the process of peace and rebuilding which followed’.

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