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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Keiji Mitsumoto (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.5 km from the hypocenter / 26 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima
10591

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I turned 86 years old this year. Looking back, I remember celebrating various events here with the Fukujukai senior group. I am deeply grateful that this irradiated body of mine has been allowed to live this long, and I've started to feel like writing about what I experienced.

It was August 6, 1945. The Eastern police station, where I worked at that time, was a very old building made of wood. It was by the side of the Enko Bridge. During emergencies we feared we might have problems so we used to move to the Hiroshima Geibi Bank Building, which was fireproof, in Shimoyanagi-cho. At the time the chief of police was Superintendent Tanabe.

My commute was from a one-story house that was one and a half kilometers [just under one mile] from the site of the explosion, in Tanaka-machi. On that day, I was scheduled to go to the city office at 10:00 a.m. with Section Chief Kobayakawa. I wanted to rest a bit so I had opened the shoji screen on the northwest veranda and was lying down.

Suddenly, at 8:15, there was blinding flash and everything went dark in front of my eyes. I felt a sudden sharp pain at my temples and an unusual smell hit my nose. Simultaneously, the house started collapsing. The ceiling, the beams and columns, the roof and roof tiles all caved in. Then all at once everything became still. At the same time I could hear voices come from every direction, crying, "Help!" Parents calling for their children, children calling for their parents... back and forth came cries of unimaginable grief.

I suddenly wake up to my own situation. It's the middle of summer, I'm wearing a tank top, and I've been blown from the veranda to the middle of the room. I can't move, and my legs are stinging with pain. I am caught under a huge tree. It is completely dark. I make a great effort to move but can't budge an inch.

In the hushed darkness, I can make out the sound of fire burning and I feel anxious. I have thoughts of the police station, of my hometown, of my ancestors' burial spot, and am filled with regret.

I can't move my left leg. I feel it's about to break. Then the thought comes to me: it's worth breaking a leg to save my life. So with all my strength I twist my leg and bit by bit it starts to come free. I start to move things off of me and finally my head is free, I can look around, and I'm startled by what I see.

The fire is approaching. Both of my legs are burned and the skin has peeled off toward my feet.
It was an unspeakable catastrophe. I will write more about it next time.
(2005)