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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Yoko Kawamoto (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.7 km from the hypocenter / 13 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I was exposed to radiation in Hiroshima when I was in the first year. When we entered middle school, we were all full of hope. I had been to Hakushima Elementary School, where I had so much fun. My middle school was girls-only, and was attached to the Hiroshima Prefectural Second High School. The school buildings were built on the same premises. The classes were a lot of fun and friendly until the atom bomb hit us. For the first time on August 5, we were ordered to clean up nearby buildings for evacuation. Girls from a total of four classes, two classes ("East" and "West")* from the first year and two classes ("East" and "West") from the second year went together on the first excursion. On August 6, only the "West" class from the second year remained in Zakoba-machi to continue the clean-up while the two classes from the first year and the "East" class from the second year were sent elsewhere to do weeding at a sweet potato patch planted for the soldiers at the Eastern Drill Grounds.

It was the students in the "West" class from the second year who died on August 6, the day the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Only one of them survived but she eventually died of stomach cancer. I can never forget the fate of those who survived and those who died that day.

This is what happened to my middle school. Other area schools met similar fates, including the Hiroshima Prefectural First and Second Middle Schools, the Hiroshima Prefectural First Girls' High School, Hiroshima Jogakuin, and the Hiroshima Municipal Girls' Middle School. I have yet to see my friends from elementary school who went to those schools, and we have not been able to hold a class reunion. As I grow old, I feel more lonesome not being able to chat with my friends about the good old days when we had fun at school.

However, I have enjoyed attending class reunions with my middle school friends, who were also exposed to radiation. As I am growing older, I recall my childhood days, and I feel saddened for not being able to exchange memories with people I knew at my elementary school. It was my fate to live on and I will take good care of my life. I pray for the repose of the souls of all of those who died of the atom bomb.
(*Japanese classes are sometimes given names like the "West" class.)