Wellington Botanical Gardens Memorial Register
Peace Camphor Tree
Peace camphor tree
photographed by unknown on 00/00/2005
Atomic bomb site from where plant obtdained
photographed by unknown on 00/00/2005

No plaque


Peace Garden, allongside Rose Garden


Two months after the atomic bombing, Lieutenant R.J. Battersby photographed Nagasaki. He captured a non-denominational devastation. Cathedrals and shrines were dealt identical fates. And no discrimination was given between the creations of mankind and the creations of Mother Earth.

Within a radius of one kilometer from ground zero, men and animals died almost instantaneously from the tremendous blast pressure and heat; houses and other structures were smashed, crushed and scattered; and fires broke out. The strong complex steel members of the structures of the Mitsubishi Steel Works were bent and twisted like jelly and the roofs of the reinforced concrete National Schools were crumpled and collapsed, indicating a force beyond imagination. Trees of all sizes lost their branches or were uprooted or broke off at the trunk.
U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey: The Effects of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, June 19, 1946.

Amazingly, some structures in the first kilometer radius remained standing. Nagasaki’s Sanno Shrine, only 800 meters from the hypocenter, had three survivors. First, one of the shrine’s torii gates remained. Well, part of it, anyway. After the blast, the torii balanced on one leg. The other leg was flattened, amputated, with the rest of the shrine. Nearby, two 500 year old camphor trees. Like the torii, they weren’t fully in tact. Their upper portions were ripped away as were many of their branches and all of their leaves. Today, all three Sanno Shinto Shrine survivors are still standing. When the neighborhood rebuilt and more modern buildings were constructed, the One-Legged Torii was preserved as a reminder of the forces that once tore through the city.

The two trees were once two of the largest camphor trees in the entire city. Topped by the blast, today they are only 10 meters tall. Height, however, does not equal vitality. As the tree’s leafed canopies can testify to– the trees are flourishing.

In 1945, the trees were symbols of hope and a new beginning. Today, they contribute to another message.

The trees recovered, and seedlings were sent far and wide by children wishing for peace. These second-generation trees are now growing healthily at schools and in towns throughout Japan. Over time, no matter what ill winds may blow, we shall never relinquish our commitment to a future that is free from nuclear weapons.

One of the second generation trees resides in the Wellington Peace Garden in New Zealand. “It is a testament to the hope that peace can triumph over war,” Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast stated in 2005.

Back in Nagasaki, the original camphor trees and the One-Legged Torii bear the scars of traumas past and stand with determination.

The creations of mankind and the creations of Mother Nature carry on.

category: trees - memorial and commemorative