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Object: Figurine

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Title Figurine
Production Unknown, Early 1940s, Japan
Medium summary ceramic
Materials clay
Classification figurines
Technique firing
Dimensions Overall: 90mm (Height) x 38mm (Length) x 38mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Gift of Dr Guy P. Hallwright, 2008
Registration number GH011807

This figurine of a Tanuki (raccoon dog) was found at ‘ground zero’ (the epicentre) of the atomic bomb blast that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August 1945. The United States dropped the bomb near the end of World War II.

Tanuki

There is a Japanese folk belief that if someone has the spirit of a Tanuki they will want to drink alcohol. Drinking establishments sometimes place a Tanuki figure at their entrance to encourage people to enter. The figurine is a poignant reminder of everyday Japanese life at the time the bomb detonated.

Jayforce

The figurine was collected by a member of Jayforce – New Zealand’s contribution to the occupying force after Japan’s surrender. He visited the ruins in 1946 and, like many other New Zealanders, collected such souvenirs.

Impact of Hiroshima

At least 70,000 people were killed in the Hiroshima blast, with many thousands more dying or suffering from radiation in years to come. The atomic bomb was the first to be used in war and it kick-started the nuclear-arms race.

Nuclear weapons appalled New Zealanders, but the country remained closely allied with nuclear powers Britain and the US, both of which tested nuclear weapons in the Pacific until the early 1960s.

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Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.