The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 ushered in a whole new era of horror to Japan. The aftermath of the disaster was unimaginably grotesque -- and made worse by the fact that it was manmade. The response from many Japanese writers and filmmakers was to displace the trauma by addressing it in oblique, fantastical ways, through monsters and allegorical realms; the nuclear attacks and their long-lasting aftermath of radiation poisoning, as described below by Masuji Ibuse in his 1966 novel Black Rain, may have been, for many, simply too painful to address head-on. Above, children in Hiroshima in 1948 protect themselves from radiation.
"It felt as though night were drawing in, but after I'd been home for a while I realized that it was dark because of the clouds of black smoke filling the sky.... I wasn't aware until Uncle Shigematsu told me that my skin looked as though it had been splashed with mud. My white short-sleeved blouse was soiled in the same way, and the fabric was damaged at the soiled spots. When I looked in the mirror, I found that I was spotted all over with the same color except where I had been covered by my air-raid hood.... I suddenly remembered a shower of black rain that had fallen after Mr. Nojima had got us in the black market boat. It must have been about 10 a.m. Thundery black clouds had borne down on us from the direction of the city, and the rain from them had fallen in streaks the thickness of a fountain pen. It had stopped almost immediately. It was cold, cold enough to make one shiver although it was midsummer." &mdash Black Rain, Masuji Ibuse