Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Script written by Sadie Perkins.

There are probably many things you don’t know about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during WWII. For instance, did you know that the atomic bombing of Japan inspired the creation of Godzilla? How about the fact that the bombs’ codenames were take from “The Maltese Falcon”? Or that a group of gingko trees actually survived the nuclear blast? WatchMojo counts down ten fascinating facts about the atomic bombings of Japan during World War II.

Special thanks to our user MikeMJPMUNCH for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Things%20You%20Didn't%20Know%20About%20the%20Bombings%20of%20Hiroshima%20and%20Nagasaki

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Script written by Sadie Perkins.

Top 10 Things You Didn't Know About the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki


With the flick of a switch, the way humanity thought of the bomb was changed forever. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 things you didn’t know about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For this list, we’re looking at little known or thought-provoking facts about the bombings. It’s likely there will be photos and videos that some find disturbing or upsetting; viewer discretion is advised.

#10: The Bombs Birthed Godzilla

Oddly enough, this tragedy inspired one of the most famous movie monsters of all time. Nearly ten years after both cities dealt with the tragedy and destruction of the bombings, and following the Lucky Dragon 5 incident, Godzilla was brought to life on the big screen. A metaphor for nuclear weapons and the destruction they bring, the ancient dragon-like monster is disturbed in his underwater home following hydrogen bomb testing. The destruction brought about by Godzilla was intended to parallel, and serve as a reminder of, the destruction caused in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

#9: Ginkgo Trees in the Area Survived (And Are Still Growing Today)

Few plants lived through the bomb in Hiroshima, and it’s not hard to see why: according to some sources, for the first few seconds of the explosion, the heat felt within roughly 2 miles of the blast site was approximately 40 times hotter than the sun. However the gingko tree was one of the few plants to survive the attack. At over 270 million years old, this species of tree is considered a living fossil and is incredibly resilient to disease and damage. Six gingko trees were growing within about a one-mile radius of where the bomb dropped, and shockingly enough, they survived with mild charring. They fully recovered shortly afterwards, and you can still visit them today.

#8: The Hiroshima Peace Flame Will Burn Until All Nuclear Weapons Are Destroyed

As the saying goes: those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. To serve as a reminder of the horrors of atomic war and a memorial to the bombing victims, the Peace Flame was built on the remains of Hiroshima’s commercial and residential district, and lit in 1964. Burning at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, the flame will remain lit until all nuclear weapons in the world are destroyed and the world no longer faces the threat of a nuclear “D-Day.”

#7: Nagasaki Was Not the Original Target

Sometimes, the fate of thousands is decided by a single person. Before the bomb was dropped, a Target Committee was created, to organize and execute the specifics of the bombing. The original five targets for the bomb were Hiroshima, Kokura, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Niigata. However the Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, had spent his honeymoon in Kyoto and was so fond of the city that he insisted it be taken off the list. When searching for a replacement city, the Committee decided on Nagasaki.

#6: The Bombs’ Codenames Were Inspired by “The Maltese Falcon”

“Little Boy” and “Fat Man” are generally well known as the nicknames for the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively, but the inspiration behind these monikers is not as famous. The names were chosen based on the shape of the bombs, with the Hiroshima bomb being slim and streamlined, and the Nagasaki bomb being round and fat. What’s more, “Fat Man” was inspired by the character Kasper Gutman in the movie “The Maltese Falcon,” with its companion “Little Boy” being named after the character played by Elisha Cook Jr. in the same film.

#5: The First Flower to Bloom After the Bombing Became Hiroshima’s Official Flower

In the wasteland left behind by the bombs, it took a long time before anything living poked through the rubble – in fact, some thought it would take at least 30 years before any plant life sprouted. However, within a year of the explosion, the Oleander became the first flower to bloom. It’s a shrub with bright pink, red, or white flower that’s hearty enough to weather the difficult soil conditions and thrive despite the debris. Because this flower was the first to grow through the rubble after the destruction of Hiroshima, and therefore inspired residents, it was named as the city’s official flower.

#4: The Japanese Detected the Bomber

Shortly before midnight on the day of the Hiroshima bombing, Japanese radar detected the arrival of a group of American planes. An alert was sounded in Hiroshima and air raid sirens were set off, while the aircraft accompanying the bomber Enola Gay flew over the city. When nothing came of it, the coast was declared clear and the warning was lifted. An hour before the bomb dropped, a second warning was set off, but the all clear was given again. One hour later, at 8:15am, the Enola Gay dropped “Little Boy.”

#3: “Duck and Cover” Apparently Saved the Lives of Nagasaki Police

After the bombing of Hiroshima, some survivors fled to the neighboring city of Nagasaki. One of these survivors was a policeman from Hiroshima, who’d witnessed how “ducking” after the atomic flash minimized injury caused by the ensuing shock wave. He taught the Nagasaki police force the importance of the “duck and cover” method, which involved lying flat on the ground after a bomb explosion to reduce the risk of burns or fatal injuries. As a result of this instruction, it’s said that zero policemen were killed in Nagasaki when “Fat Man” was dropped. Unfortunately the general population didn’t receive this lesson, and many were injured while looking to the sky for the source of the blast.

#2: Tsutomu Yamaguchi Survived Both Bombs

Is his luck terrible or fantastic? Yamaguchi was staying in Hiroshima on a business trip before the bombing. He was leaving Hiroshima on August 6th, when he realized he’d forgotten his travel stamp. While walking back from retrieving it the bomb went off, leaving Yamaguchi badly burned and injured. He spent the night in an air raid shelter with colleagues who’d also survived the bomb, then traveled to Nagasaki where he reported for work on August 9th – despite his severe injuries. That morning Nagasaki was bombed, though this time Yamaguchi was thankfully unhurt. He lived to age 93 and is the only person officially recognized by the Japanese government to have survived both explosions.

#1: The U.S. Dropped Warning Leaflets on Japan Before the Bombings

Not only did the Japanese detect the bombers ahead of time; the American Air Force also warned the Japanese that the bombs were coming… kinda. Believing it would increase the associated psychological damage, Curtis LeMay – commander of the B-17 Flying Fortress unit, the 305th Bomb Group – had leaflets written up by Japanese POWs and dropped over major cities. Dates about the last pamphlet drops are conflicting, with some sources stating they stopped in early-July and other survivors reporting they received leaflets just days before Hiroshima was bombed. Either way, they warned about air raids and fire bombings, encouraged evacuation and surrender, and listed major cities as potential targets – with the exception of Hiroshima. However, they never threatened atomic warfare.
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