The text area starts here.

  • Before reading this site

Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Yoshiko Okabe (female)
'Chokubaku'  / 15 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. There were six in my family: my father, my mother, my two older sisters, myself, and my younger sister. My father worked for the Divisional Headquarters, my mother did labor services work, my oldest sister worked at my father's company, my second sister worked for the police, I was a junior at Hiroshima Girls' School, and my younger sister had evacuated to Toyama. The day before the atomic bomb was dropped, my youngest sister came home. It had been a long time since I had last seen her. On the morning of August 6, along with the sound of atomic bomb explosion, we were buried under the rubble of our house. For a moment, I thought my house was the hypocenter of the A-bomb. As the A-bomb exploded, flames burst into the air and engulfed the collapsed houses. My mother, who was 1.3 kilometers away from the hypocenter, came home severely burned.

My feet were bruised, my hair burnt to a crisp, my mouth had swollen to the fullest extent possible and I couldn't make a single sound after I called out, "Mother!" In front of me was a sea of fire. I laid my mother on the bathroom door and bound up my sister's wound with a blanket. It eventually took us three days and three nights on foot to finally reach the shelter at one of the elementary schools in town. There we found my father and my oldest sister, both of whom were severely burned and barely alive.

My father learned that the war ended on August 15, but he passed away on August 18. His body lay covered with a sheet of cloth on the floor of the classroom, which was now reduced to a mere wooden board without walls, Left behind were my severely burned mother and sister and the rest of us kids. Sixty years have passed and it still pains my heart and brings tears to my eyes to know that no matter how much agony he was in, he still worried and cared about his family. Thousands and thousands of people were burned alive in the raging of flames. There was a mountain of corpses that couldn't be identified as either male or female, all piled up one on top of another.

I remember the cries of people groaning for water - it was a scene of carnage, a hell. Is it acceptable for us to experience this kind of tragedy ever again? I want the children who aren't aware of the brutality of war to appreciate the importance of peace. I can't help but hope that people never forget about the savagery of war. I've gone through marriage, economic issues, and bearing the burden of my memories of the A-bomb over the past 60 years of my life. I'd still like to keep working towards giving the children of the 21st Century the opportunity to live under a clear blue sky and on a healthy green planet. I feel that I cannot die until all nuclear weapons are abolished. I will live the rest of my life to the fullest.

After losing all my hopes and dreams and living 65 years with the burden of my memories of the A-bomb, I believe it's my responsibility to never again let there be victims of nuclear weapons. I must appeal to the world for the abolition of nuclear weapons, inform the children about the preciousness of peace, and teach them about the importance of life. Tears filled my eyes when I received the Takarazuka's Peace Project Service Award on February 28, 2010.

I'm very thankful for my life and I will live the rest of my remaining time with strength and conviction.