The Japan experience – Part 2

Stain glass Urakami Cathedral

The day after returning to Nagasaki from our trip to Nara, we had an interview arranged with Fr. Renzo, who runs a beautifully designed museum dedicated to the 26 Martyrs of Japan. After a brief but informative tour of the museum, it was on to the interview.

Outside the museum there is a huge relief depicting each of the 26 martyrs.

Again, we were working to a very tight deadline and before we got too comfortable, it was time to make our way to our next destination, the Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, where we had three other interviews scheduled.

We were privileged to be able to interview Mr. Yoshitoshi Fukahori, who is also head of the Committee for Atomic Bombing Research and Archive materials and a survivor of the atomic bombing. His interview included a detailed slide show of photos that helped bring his story and experience vividly to life.

Director Ian Higgins and co. producer Joel Fletcher set up the camera angle, while Director Dominic Higgins (off camera) discusses the interview to be filmed with Mr. Fukahori.

After his interview, we showed Mr. Fukahori some of our pre-visual artwork to make sure it was as authentic as possible. Mr. Fukahori seemed impressed with the artwork and told us it was just how it was.

Mr. Fukahori relives his experience as a survivor of the atomic bombing.

A reporter from the Japanese newspaper, “The Yomiuri Shimbun”, was also there at Mr. Fukahori’s interview to talk to us about the film – we appeared in the newspaper the next morning! So we also managed to get some good publicity within Japan.

Our second interview was with Professor Jun. Professor Jun and his students have created a computer generated model of pre-bombed Nagasaki, guided by Mr. Fukahori’s memories. From a research point of view, this “virtual” reconstruction will allow us a fascinating and highly detailed look at the Nagasaki of Dr. Nagai’s youth.

Next we had an interview with Mr. Takashi Morita, the director of the Peace Memorial Hall.

As well as being granted special permission to film and photograph in the memorial hall by Mr Morita, we were given a private view of a special light show on the roof of the Peace Hall, where 70,000 fibre optic lights shine from the bottom of a large tree lined basin of water. Needless to say, once again we felt incredibly honoured and very privileged.

Each light represents the soul of a victim of that day. After we got our footage, we downed our cameras and took a moment to let the experience sink in. It was profoundly beautiful and another memory to treasure.

The beautiful light display on the roof of the Atomic bomb memorial hall.

70,000 lights for 70,000 souls.

Our overriding experience of our time in the Peace Memorial Hall was one of deep contemplation. On one hand, there is a quiet, but very deep and sincere respect for all the victims of the atomic bombings, and on the other, a passionate plea for the world to learn from the horrors endured by the people of Nagasaki on that summer day. There is no trace of bitterness or anger whatsoever, and this is undoubtedly why a visit to a place such as the Memorial Hall has such a profound effect.

The next morning we had an interview with Dr. Masao Tomonaga, whose father was also a personal physician to Dr. Nagai in his final years. Dr. Tomonaga had memories of meeting Dr. Nagai has a child and showed us a first edition of Dr. Nagai’s landmark book, “The Bells Of Nagasaki” which had a written message from Dr. Nagai to his father!

Dr. Tomonaga knew Dr. Nagai personally and gave us some valuable insights into the man and his life.

Dr. Tomonaga’s first edition of “Bells of Nagasaki”, signed by the author.

Dr. Tomonaga told us that he believed our film was potentially one of the most important developments in recent years for the story of all those who suffered through the atomic bombing, alongside Dr. Nagai.

Our final interview was with Mr. Yoshiro Yamawaki, of the Nagasaki Foundation for the Promotion of Peace, who was 11 when the atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki. Once again, what we heard was a harrowing and intimate account of living through the atomic holocaust. It was a privilege for us to be able to speak to both survivors of the atomic bombing, and our interviews with them enabled us to capture the true human face of the disaster.

The interview was followed by a tour of the atomic bomb museum where we got to see more examples of the destructive power unleashed on that day in 1945. One of the most poignant items on display was a wall clock that had stopped at 11.02am, the exact time the bomb exploded.

Forever frozen at 11.02 am, August the 9th, 1945.

We spent our last few hours in Nagasaki filming in the Peace Park. Standing at the point of the epicentre of the bomb was very unnerving, as was standing before the remains of the original Urakami Cathedral.  We took a moment to let it all sink in, and then, with only a couple of hours to catch our plane we decided to risk a mad dash to Yamazato Elementary School where Dr. Nagai had erected a memorial for all the children who perished there.

It was very long journey home but it was good to be able to sit down for more than five minutes!

The Peace Memorial Park.

The Peace Statue

The 10-meter-tall Peace Statue by sculptor Seibou Kitamura dominates the park. The right hand points to the sky and symbolises the threat of nuclear weapons while the left hand is extended to the side in a symbol of eternal peace.

All that remains of the original cathedral in Urakami.

A reconstructed Dutch settlement in Nagasaki – some wonderful traditional buildings = plenty of useful material for FX shots.

Every so often we had the feeling of really stepping back in time.

During our trip to Japan, we became increasingly aware of just how important our film was to the people we had met, with so many of them thanking us for attempting to make their story and the story of Dr. Nagai better known to the world.

We were incredibly passionate about telling this story before we went to Japan and we were obligated to make the film because of the donations we had received, but now we also have a very personal obligation to fulfil. The film has found its soul.

The “Hibaku Maria” or “Bombed Maria” a statue of Mary from the Cathedral at Urakami that survived the bombing. Preserved today in a small chapel inside the Cathedral, its scared face is a haunting reminder of the human face of the tragedy.

Help make a movie worth watching!

It was thanks to all the kind donations we received via our crowd funding campaign on that we were able to fly out to Japan and film the wonderful interviews and amazing footage we now have. But… we still need to raise a little more money as we turn our efforts to producing the drama aspects of the movie.

The drama will concentrate on the human story behind the facts. We believe that drama is the most powerful way to bring this side of the story to life with the impact that it needs, so we’ve launched one final campaign on Indiegogo  with every penny raised going into the production of the movie.

So once more we are asking  for your support and help in bringing this incredible and important story to screens all over the world and into the hearts of people everywhere, where it belongs.

Below Fr. Paul Glynn explains why he believes the story of Dr. Nagai still remains so relevant today.

To help us make it happen point your browser to our page onIndiegogo.

We’ve also just launched the official All That Remains website  be sure to check it out!

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  1. Help Me Make This Movie…Please | Why I Am Catholic
  2. Help Me Make This Movie…Redux! | Why I Am Catholic

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