In the early morning hours of August 6, 1945, the citizens of Hiroshima would waken with dread. The allies were closing in and the endless fighting power of the Americans was proven time and time again in each battle. Along this gnawing fear was the complete trust on the Celestial Emperor, whose line of ancestors had guided the Land of the Rising Sun for centuries and would continue to do so until the last setting sun.
It was 8am and only the shadow of the aircraft was spotted. The alarms blared across the city but few paid attention, because in a state of war this deafening sound is as common as the sound of a honking car. In a matter of seconds, life would never be the same. Little Boy, which was supposed to fall on the Aioi River, detonated on the Shima Clinic. The fireball of 1,200ft in diameter reached a temperature of 10,830°F. The city was razed to the ground and the fires spread, fuelled by the classical buildings made of wood. In the pouring black rain, the horrifying death count was reached: 70 thousand bodies. Amid the destruction, six trees were one of the few survivors that resisted the nuclear onslaught. One of these was the Ginkgo biloba that now symbolizes immutability.
It is unsurprising that the Ginkgo is venerated for its strength. Some specimens have been found to be over 1,500 years old and even fossils dating to the Jurassic period have been discovered. For many cultures this tree is miraculous and the bearer of hope. According to legends, Confucius was fascinated with the Ginkgo, and he would teach his disciples under its shade. Their unwavering strength was proven once again in 1923 when after a terrible earthquake they remained upright in a Japanese temple.
Painters and poets depict these ancient beings in their works, and even nations use them as national emblems.
In my garden’s care and favour
From the East this tree’s leaf shows
Secret sense for us to savour
And uplifts the one who knows.
Is it but one being single
Which as same itself divides?
Are there two which choose to mingle
So that each as one now hides?
As the answer to such question
I have found a sense that’s true:
Is it not my songs’ suggestion
That I’m one and also two?
Johann W. Von Goethe
Ginkgo Biloba (1815)