Photo/IllutrationCompositions written by Nagoya Municipal Hakusui Elementary School pupils who survived the 1959 Isewan Typhoon (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

“It was a sunny autumn day, with white clouds floating lazily in the sky. I asked the clouds after my mother, father and younger sister from whom I had been separated. The clouds remained silent.”

This passage is from a composition written by Mikiko Kuno, who was an elementary school fifth-grader when the Isewan Typhoon struck the Tokai region on Sept. 26, 1959. More than 5,000 people were killed or were listed as missing, including Kuno’s family.

Nagoya Municipal Hakusui Elementary School, located close to the port of Nagoya, lost as many as 142 pupils.

Compositions written by children who survived the typhoon will go on display at the Nagoya City Museum on Sept. 21.

“I was carried on a swift current in the dark, muddy water,” wrote Miyako Aine, a sixth-grader. “My mother cried out, ‘Dad! Miyako! Yukio!’ The next moment, her hand that was on my shoulder was no longer there.”

It was a Saturday. A river embankment collapsed at night, causing lumber in the lumberyard to flow into the city.

“With a gurgling sound, a ‘tatami’ flooring mat in my house floated up and the water rose to my ankles,” recalled Yoko Mizuno, a fifth-grader. The water kept rising before she could escape.

“When I could touch the ceiling, I thought my heart would burst with terror. My father banged (on the ceiling) with his fist.”

Takafumi Segawa, 42, a curator at the museum, met with many of the survivors while perusing their hand-written accounts.

“Some wept as they relived the horror,” he said.

Some survivors spent days on the roofs of their homes, while others visited the homes of their deceased classmates.

The discolored manuscripts contain mistaken or omitted characters.

Looking at them, the intensity of the words woven by the elementary school children broke my heart.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 19

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.