Human Shadow Etched in Stone – Hiroshima, Japan - Atlas Obscura

Human Shadow Etched in Stone

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

An eerie reminder to the horrors of World War II.  


Toward the end of World War II, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, exposing over 500,000 people to radiation and killing some 200,000 civilians instantly.

During the early morning hours of that fateful day in August, a local person was sitting on a set of stone steps in front of a bank in Hiroshima waiting for it to open. Then, without warning, the bomb fell from the sky and detonated. The person was killed immediately. It’s still unknown who this person was, but they left behind an eerie reminder to the true horrors of war. 

Still etched on the stone steps is what appears to be a black stain, commonly referred to as the Human Shadow Etched in Stone, or The Shadow of Death. Although some claim the person was evaporated by the blast, it’s scientifically unlikely, and it’s believed they died instantly or were unable to move from the steps until they passed.

The steps remained at the bank until 1971 when they were removed as part of a renovation project. The steps were then relocated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they are displayed today. 

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August 31, 2020

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  • Harry S. Truman Library, Miscellaneous historical document file, no. 258
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