Black Rain is a novel by Japanese author Ibuse Masuji. It tells the story of hibakusha (Japanese atom bomb survivors) struggling with discrimination and social isolation due to radiation poisoning. Probably one of the most well-known of Japanese novels among Western readers, Black Rain attempts to deal with the suffering generated by the bombing from a human perspective, rather than placing it in a political context.
The book alternates between Shizuma Shigematsu’s journal entries from 1945, in the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, and the present, 1950, when he and his wife Shigeko are the guardians of Shigeko’s niece, Yasuko, and charged with finding her a husband. At the start of the novel, three earlier attempts to arrange a match have already failed due to health concerns over her having been exposed to the “black rain” fallout of the atomic bomb.
Black Rain is a 1989 Japanese film by director Shohei Imamura and based on the novel of the same name by Ibuse Masuji. The events are centered on the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
The film moves between Shizuma Shigematsu’s journal entries about Hiroshima in 1945, following the dropping of the atomic bomb, and the present, 1950, when Shigematsu and his wife Shigeko are the guardians for their niece Yasuko and charged with finding her a husband (which she has been declined for three times due to health concerns over her having been in the “black rain” fallout of the bomb). As the story progresses, Shigematsu sees more and more fellow hibakusha, his friends and family, succumbing to radiation sickness and Yasuko’s prospects for marriage become more and more unlikely, as she forms a bond with a poor man named Yuichi, who carves jizo and suffers a form of post-traumatic stress disorder where he attacks passing motor vehicles as “tanks.”