Fashion designer Issey Miyake, who was born and raised in Hiroshima, Japan, was only seven years old when the nuclear bomb was dropped in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. Now 71 years old, Miyake reveals the impact of that day on his life in his recent op-ed piece for The New York Times.
“When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience: a bright red light, the black cloud soon after, people running in every direction trying desperately to escape — I remember it all. Within three years, my mother died from radiation exposure.”
His piece really surprised me since I never knew he was a survivor of the atomic bomb. To me, he was just an incredibly innovative fashion designer who was the genius behind his well-known “Pleats Please” line. To imagine that a creator of beautiful garments celebratory of the human body and life experienced such an appalling and horrific tragedy at the young age of seven seems incredulous yet deeply admirable because of his will to move forward. In his piece he explains, “I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to put them behind me preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy.”
Miyake’s piece, which asks President Obama to visit Hiroshima for Universal Peace Day, on Aug. 6, goes further as to urge all citizens of the world to take action in moving towards peace. Thinking about that fateful day in Hiroshima, which left an estimated 140,000 casualties, in light of the recent, ongoing nuclear threats from North Korea, shows the magnitude of what a nuclear threat means today. As Miyake advocates, “For there to be any hope of peace, people around the world must add their voices to President Obama’s.” From the words of a true survivor, let’s start talking.
Photo by David Sims, “Future Shock,” V45