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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Akio Nakanishi (male)
'Chokubaku'  1.1 km from the hypocenter / 18 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
3140

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Q1. What were your most unforgettable A-bomb experiences like?
A1. I was a student at Hiroshima High School under the old educational system. The day after the bombing, I walked through downtown Hiroshima in search of my friends. I looked for them among the floating corpses that filled the rivers. The scenes are still indelibly printed in my eyes.

Q2. How do you feel about the A-bomb fatalities?
A2. Utterly sad and tragic. I feel the present Japan is built on those countless sacrifices.

Q3. What do you want to tell future generations?
A3. That there is no justice to war. I want Japan to take the initiative to realize total elimination of nuclear weapons from the Earth. I wish for permanent maintenance of world peace.
(2005)

Even if I write, between written words and reality there would be the difference between heaven and earth.

In 1945, I was an eighteen-year-old second-year student in Natural Sciences, Division B at Hiroshima High School, under the old educational system. As a mobilized student, I engaged in rolling duralumin at a steel sheet factory called Toyo Kohan in Kudamatsu in Yamaguchi Prefecture. I stayed in the company dormitory together with 40 or 50 other students from Class 1 and Class 2 of Science B.

Because sea mines were set in the Seto Inland Sea, no ships could pass there. That caused a coal shortage. By August 3, work had to stop at the factory. Toyo Kohan and Nippon Oil each had a large oil tank in Kudamatsu. The Nippon Oil site was bombed. Toyo Kohan was not bombed, but with operations on hold, the student workers were to be sent home for a one-week leave, taking turns in two shifts.

On the evening of August 5, the first group, including me, took the train from Kudamatsu. Five classmates and I were going to get off at Hiroshima Station. Twenty or so others were going further to the Osaka area. However, in the late afternoon of that day our train got stuck before it reached Yokogawa Station, one stop before Hiroshima. We had to walk from there. My friends A and B planned to stay at A's house near the Kan'on Bridge, and I was to join them there by 8 o'clock the following morning so we could together go to the shore and fish. My home was in Midori-machi, a few minutes on foot from Hiroshima High School. We left the train and headed for home separately. Passing Koi Station, I walked as far as Yokogawa, if my memory is correct, then took a local train there.

That night another friend C also stayed at my home. We slept in separate rooms. When I woke up the next morning at 7 o'clock my mother told me that, unable to sleep because of mosquitoes flying around inside the room-size mosquito net, he had gotten up around 4 o'clock and left saying he would go back to Yokogawa while it was still cool. C later told me, "About 7 a.m. that day, I took a bus from Yokogawa to Hamada. As I had gotten quite a way from Yokogawa, I saw a flash and heard a loud explosion."

On waking that morning at seven, I went to my high school teacher D's house four or five doors from mine, and reported to him that half the students had been discharged for a week off, that I had led them from Kudamatsu to Yokogawa, and that we had disbanded there.

When I returned around 7:30 a.m., my mother and three sisters were in the dining room talking. Suddenly an air raid alarm sounded. Almost at the same time, a flash hit my eyes. I yelled at them, "Get outside away from the veranda!" When they ran outside, I said again, "Hit the dirt!" They did so silently. I remember seeing roof tiles flying through the air like tree leaves.

When it was calmer around us after a while, I rose to find my mother missing. Startled, I called to her and found her underneath a glass door that had fallen out from the veranda. We had covered the glass panes of the doors with paper to prevent them from shattering. That kept her from getting injured. When all rose from the ground, I wondered what this was all about. It was different from such previous experiences as a bombing in Kudamatsu that led to a fire. Our house was surrounded by thick concrete walls, which obstructed any view of what was happening in town.

Besides my mother and three sisters, there were my older sister's three or four-month-old infant and two girls between age one and three or so. Because my older sisters covered them, they were uninjured.

When I returned to the rooms through the veranda, they were all empty. Everything that was there was gone including our air raid hoods. The roofs were missing. All of the paper sliding doors and fittings had broken off. Our padded air raid hoods and such were perched on upper beams. Not knowing what had happened, I decided to go to my school. I readied myself and went outside the house. Strangely, it was too dark to see anything in the direction of downtown. As I walked along a path through a lotus field, I met a young woman stripped to her waist walking from the opposite direction, her breasts bleeding. "My home is right there, so get some first aid from my family," I advised her.

The high school wall stretched about 1,000 meters [almost 1,100 yards] along the road. On that road I saw people coming toward me in a line. Skin peeling off, they looked as if tattered clothes were hanging from their bodies. Their exposed flesh was such deep red that I would have bet it had been treated with mercurochrome. I sensed something terrible must have occurred. On reaching the school, I found that all the buildings had been destroyed. The janitor's room was the first one I should have caught sight of, but that and the corridor connecting it to the main building were gone. The science lab built with reinforced concrete remained, so I went there. Teacher E came out. At a loss to understand the situation, we thought of going to the roof. We went up, joined by Teacher D, but it was so pitch dark with smoke that nothing was visible. We could detect no hole that a bomb might have made, nor did we see any fire. When the three of us went down again, it seemed best to go home for the time being. Teacher E was on duty that night, so he had to stay at school. Teacher D and I wondered what could have happened and what we should do now. Eventually, however, all we could do was go home.