Piano that survived atomic bomb plays on for peace

Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:02am EDT
 
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By Hyun Oh

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - A 77-year-old piano that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and has become a symbol for peace is heading to New York next year as the city marks the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

When the United States dropped the bomb on the Japanese city on August 6, 1945, the Yamaha upright piano was in the blast radius. It still retains very low levels of radiation and shards of glass are forever embedded in the black lacquer.

"During the bombing of Hiroshima, everything within two kilometers from ground zero was burned and destroyed. This piano was within that boundary and miraculously survived," said Mitsunori Yagawa, who restored the instrument and tours across Japan, playing it at peace concerts.

"I'm planning to bring this piano that was exposed to radiation to New York in the coming year, just in time for 9/11 in hopes to spread awareness about the atomic bomb and the preciousness of peace to the world," Yagawa told Reuters.

Yagawa's father was exposed to radiation during the bombing, inspiring him to hold these concerts which he hopes will drill home the value of peace to the younger generations.

He held his first concert on the piano, one of five to survive the blast, in Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park in 2005.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki which came a few days after Hiroshima, acclaimed composer and pianist Kansaku Tanikawa took to the piano's tarnished, ivory keys for a moving performance at a memorial event in Tokyo.

He also marveled at the quality of the piano's sound.

"The piano sounds so good that it is hard to imagine that it was damaged by an atomic bomb," Tanikawa said.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

 
<p>A view of Hiroshima after the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945. REUTERS/File</p>