Paper Lanterns Screening Recap

 In Culture Exchange, In the News, Japan Society News

In case you missed it, Japan Society held two screenings last week for the documentary “Paper Lanterns” at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum and at the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View. Heralded by MIT’s The Tech newspaper as a “testament to forgiveness and compassion,” the film follows Shigeaki Mori, a Japanese historian and atomic bomb survivor, and his 35 year-long journey to find the names and families of 12 American prisoners of war (POW) that perished during the Hiroshima bombing.

When the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, Mori was 8 years old. But after witnessing such a devastating atrocity he made it his life’s work to memorialize all of its victims, including the American POWs. Mori had discovered that Japan’s memorials had left out these 12 names and consequently set about tracing their histories and families, and creating a new memorial for them. Mori even took a night job as a security guard to pay for it.

Mr. and Mrs. Mori made a special appearance to both screenings, marking their first ever trip to the United States (and first time on a plane). Director Barry Frechette and producer Nobuko Saito Cleary also attended.

The event was covered by The Japan Times, Oana News, and NBC Bay Area, and “Paper Lanterns” will now make it’s way over to the East Coast. The ultimate goal for the film, according to Frechette, is to “get it in universities and high schools for students to see.”

Mori’s dedication is an inspirational example of overcoming the divisions and prejudices of wartime to find peace and solidarity.


So what’s next for this maverick of history? Mori hopes to continue uncovering the stories of prisoners of war in Japan. “Hiroshima wasn’t the only city hit with an atomic bomb,” he explained, and the next step is to honor the Australian, Korean and Chinese men who perished in Nagasaki.

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