By SHOHEI OKADA/ Staff Writer
August 10, 2022 at 16:36 JST
Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a five-part series on the “atomic-bombed violin.” The stringed instrument, once owned by a Russian, survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. It was restored a decade ago and its sound has since touched many people’s hearts across borders.
* * *
Time stood still as a young violinist from Hiroshima with ancestral roots to Ukraine and Russia played a violin that survived the 1945 atomic bombing in a moving anniversary performance.
Eishin Richard Hiraishi, 15, played the “atomic-bombed violin” at an event with a theme of peace, art and music on Aug. 6 at Kamiyacho Shareo, an underground shopping mall in Hiroshima.
The day marked the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city.
“I want to play the violin wishing for a world with no war, where everybody lives in harmony,” Eishin said before the performance.
The teen was invited to participate in the event and play the instrument because of his ties to the two countries currently at war with each other.
The musical instrument was found beneath the rubble of Hiroshima after the 1945 atomic bombing of the city. The bereaved family of the violin’s original owner, a Russian music teacher, donated it to the Hiroshima Jogakuin school in 1986 after his death.
The instrument was restored in 2012 and has since traveled the world to be played by many artists.
VIOLINIST'S GRANDFATHER A HIBAKUSHA
Eishin’s mother, Olena Hiraishi, 43, was born in Dnipro in central Ukraine. Her mother was born in Russia.
Olena came to Hiroshima to study in 2001.
She said the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the summer of 1945 was well known among Ukrainians because they learn about it along with the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl nuclear site.
She said her Japanese husband’s father was a hibakusha, who had died before the couple married.
Olena said, according to her husband, her father-in-law was a student when the atomic bomb was dropped.
Scars caused by shards of glass could be seen on his back. But he was unwilling to talk about the experience.
Olena said she feels a sense of gratitude toward his strength.
“If he had not survived, Eishin would not have been born,” she said.
Eishin started learning to play the violin when he was 5. Currently, he and Olena live in Germany.
In the summer of 2021, Eishin visited Ukraine with his mother and others and walked along a sunflower field.
“It was fun, and Ukraine was a peaceful and beautiful country,” he said.
But things turned upside down when Eishin and Olena returned temporarily to Japan in February this year.
Olena’s smartphone started receiving nonstop messages from her relatives in Ukraine, letting her know of the neighboring Russia’s invasion.
The seemingly never-ending war between the two countries that she has roots in has distressed Olena.
She is concerned about the rising death toll among Ukrainians as well as Russians, she said.
She said her friend has wondered if Ukraine had nuclear weapons, things might have been different. The nuclear deterrence theory is “logical,” Olena concedes.
But if there are leaders who cannot make a logical decision, they might actually attack with a nuclear weapon, she believes.
RELAYING A MESSAGE OF PEACE
Meanwhile, Eishin is taking action by using his talent.
“I want to use music for people,” he said.
In mid-March this year, Eishin and his pianist friend Jundai Okano, 16, held a charity concert in Hiroshima.
Since then, the duo has performed together at various venues.
On April 26, the duo played the Ukrainian national anthem by violin and electronic piano near the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima for an online event connecting Ukraine, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
A video of their performance made the rounds online.
On May 7, they again played the Ukrainian national anthem at a concert held in Miyoshi, Hiroshima Prefecture.
There they met a person who has evacuated from Ukraine to Japan.
The person stood up and sang the anthem when they started playing it, and told the duo, “I want you two to visit Ukraine after the war is over.”
Keiko Nakagawa, 65, who lives in Hiroshima, is another person moved by Eishin's story.
She carried the atomic-bombed violin to Ukraine four years ago.
Nakagawa selected Eishin to play the violin at the Aug. 6 event because she said she feels the significance of the ties that bind the young violinist whose ancestral roots are in Hiroshima, Ukraine and Russia with the atomic-bombed violin.
“It is a special violin that survived the atomic bombing,” Eishin said. “I believe I can relay a message of peace to everybody.”
Visit this page for the latest news on Japan’s battle with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Cooking experts, chefs and others involved in the field of food introduce their special recipes intertwined with their paths in life.
Here is a collection of first-hand accounts by “hibakusha” atomic bomb survivors.
The Asahi Shimbun aims “to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” through its Gender Equality Declaration.
Let’s explore the Japanese capital from the viewpoint of wheelchair users and people with disabilities with Barry Joshua Grisdale.