At 10.30pm on August 1, 1945, 125 B-29 bombers flew over Nagaoka, Japan in an air raid. About 163,000 incendiary bombs totaling 925 tons were dropped on the city in one hour and 40 minutes, burning down 80 percent of the city. It took four days to cremate all the bodies, and the ashes are said to have filled 34 rice bags.

More than 280 of the 1,486 victims were primary and middle school children. When the Korean War began five years after the end of World War II, the teachers’ union in Niigata began working towards the creation of the statue – determined they would never again drag children into war.

The statue is called Heiwa-zo, statue of peace. It depicts a young goddess, in pigtails, with outstretched arms, a little girl with a ball, and a boy reading a book. Hidden in the bosom of the goddess is a copper plate engraved with the names of the schoolchildren who died in the air raid.

It was originally placed in a square in front of JR Nagaoka Station in November 1951 and in 1955 transferred to the suburbs due to the expansion of the station building. Following requests from residents to locate it somewhere that could easily be visited, it was placed in the Peace Forest Memorial Park in 1996.

This photo is of the statue in its original location at the train station:

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