Reflections from Kyoto (on Hiroshima and Nagasaki)


Robert Kowalczyk – TRANSCEND Media Service

Dissonance Searching for Resonance

 7 Aug 2021 – Our world has now revolved to August 6th and 9th, 2021, and we have somehow made it to the 76th Commemoration of the twin tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All the while, key countries continue to further enhance their nuclear weaponry, while COVID spreads apace and Climate Change demonstrates greater than ever devastations worldwide.

As these medium-to-long term challenges create mounting dissonance, it is again time to pay homage to the Hibakusha Peace Movement with John Hersey’s admonition, “What has kept the world safe from the bomb since 1945 has not been deterrence, in the sense of fear of specific weapons, so much as it has been memory. The memory of what happened at Hiroshima (and Nagasaki).” — ­John Hersey

In keeping with that memory, the following images and reflections are offered to the memory of Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, one of the most important contacts that John Hersey made while writing Hiroshima, and certainly a central figure in the Hibakusha Peace Movement. An additional bow is given to Reverend Tanimoto’s daughter, Koko Kondo, along with Cannon Hersey, the grandson of the author, and the 100 Hibakusha Volunteers from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the United States who offered their facial impressions during the Hiroshima Nagasaki Peace Mask Project (2015 to 2017).

The question remains: Will the twin towers that rose to the August skies of those two world-changing days in 1945 be remembered as dark harbingers of our destruction, or as a global appeal for understanding and the abolishment of nuclear arms?

Time will tell. And, most apparently, time is running short.

The first image is titled, “Mind and Spirit” taken in Lausanne, Switzerland, 2006 © Robert Kowalczyk.

“The Cycle” is a personal perspective of the writer. Comments, changes, additions, or changes are welcome in the TMS Comment section below this article.

The final image of the 100 Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Masks is from the exhibition in Hiroshima (March, 2017). The project still has not completed its final goal: A permanent home or traveling exhibition at an internationally appropriate location(s). Comments or suggestions to this in the section below are always welcome and appreciated, or in an email to the International Coordinator of Peace Mask Project, Robert Kowalczyk,

With sincere gratitude to Antonio C. S. Rosa, Editor of Transcend Media Service, for his patience and friendship through these many years.


Robert Kowalczyk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is former Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Intercultural Studies in the School of Art, Literature and Cultural Studies of Kindai University, Osaka, Japan. Robert has coordinated a wide variety of projects in the intercultural field, and is currently the International Coordinator of Peace Mask Project. He has also worked in cultural documentary photography and has portfolios of images from Korea, Japan, China, Russia and other countries. He has been a frequent contributor to Kyoto Journal. Contact can be made through his website portfolio:

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 Aug 2021.

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