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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Kimiko Yamamoto (female)
'Chokubaku'  2.3 km from the hypocenter / 5 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 5 years and 6 months old at the time. Seconds after a very intense flash of light, there was a huge gust of wind, and glass shards were scattered everywhere. Paper was affixed in cross form on the window to prevent the glass from shattering, but such half-baked measures were no match for the force that hit us. It was not only the shattered window glass, the whole roof was gone, and you could see the sky. At night I could watch the stars while lying in my bed, and throughout the night the mountain fires could be seen.

My family was exposed to the A-bomb at our evacuation home in Ushita-machi. My uncle, who had also evacuated and lived in the house next to ours, was brought home in the afternoon, badly burned and carried on a door panel. He died on August 14 and was cremated in a corner of a children's playground. Not even a monk was there to read the sutras. Later I heard the grown-ups say that it was only good that he died without knowing the war defeat.

Late afternoon on the 6th, my grandparents finally arrived from the house in Funairi Naka-machi where my family had also lived until two months ago, having made a detour to avoid the city center. The strange hairstyle, that my grandmother who had always been very fashionable sported, turned out to be a pot used in lieu of a helmet. The house in Funairi Naka-machi had been destroyed in an instant, and grandfather had rescued grandmother out of the wreckage. They had circumvented Kanon-machi, Koi, and then Yokogawa, where black rain had been falling. They had taken shelter and eaten some of the distributed food. They had then crossed the railroad bridge (of the National Railway) at Misasa and Kohei Bridge to finally reach Ushita. In the evening, grandfather looked at the dying Hiroshima from the top of the stone steps of Waseda Shrine. We grandchildren watched with him a city, where everything was gone.

Although I was only 5 years old, I remember everything quite well. I am of the last generation that remembers the A-bombing. To children, even tragedies can seem like funny stories, and we warp them up in convenient memory to remember them that way.

The grandfather whom I mentioned earlier, Hisao Yamamoto, was Chairperson of the Hiroshima City Council at the time of the A-bombing.

Grandfather worked doggedly to rebuild the devastated city, especially since the mayor, deputy mayor and other key officials in the city administration had all been victims of the A-bomb. Later, he was elected member of the House of Representatives and became involved with national politics from 1948 to 1952.

During his term, grandfather devoted himself to the enactment of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Act. In the summer of 1952, he attended the Congress of the Universal Postal Union in Brussels as representative of Japan, and on his way home he made a stop in California to speak about his experiences as an A-bomb survivor. California is home to many Japanese originally from Hiroshima.

They were all very concerned about the situation and queried on the well being of relatives and friends, as there was no available information. Being the first A-bomb survivor to tell Japanese living in the U.S. about the devastation caused by the bombing, he was received with great appreciation.