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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Shiro Kawamoto (male)
'Chokubaku'  2.3 km from the hypocenter / 8 years old at the time / current resident of Shizuoka

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. A number of houses were being demolished in various places in the city of Hiroshima as a result of the administrative evacuation order.Among them was our house, located in Nishikaniya-machi near the Enko River. We moved to Nakadori District and settled in a large two-storied house with a total 100-tatami-mat space (explain this in square feet) whose owner had also been relocated.
From the veranda of the house we could see air battles taking place in the direction of Kure City.

On a very hot morning around eight a.m., August 6, (1945) we escaped into a shelter on hearing an air raid warning, which soon ended.
My father, 53, working in a whetstone factory located near Oosu Station, went to the abandoned city hall to undertake demolition as he had done the day before. My mother, 47, working at a nearby confectionery factory (manufacturing hardtack) was mobilized to work at a military factory.
My eldest brother, 16, was a student at the Army Air Academy in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture. My second oldest brother, 14, in his second year at a middle school was one of the students mobilized to work in a military factory in Kure City.

My third oldest brother, 10, in his fifth grade at an elementary school was near Kojinmachi National Elementary School, together with my fifth oldest brother, 4, and myself, the fourth oldest, aged 8, where we used to go to the iron bridge of the Ujina Line of the National Railway, longing for my second brother to be there (?).

When I took a step or two from behind the house on the riverbank, I saw a dazzling flash in the west. I lay down immediately, and everything became black. I do not remember how long it lasted, but later it became dimly light, which enabled me to go back to the road. Because I was wearing shorts, one of my legs was seriously blistered in places from burns. I had a tingling pain on the left side of my face from the irradiated burn. My head felt unendurably hot and I was crying, 'Hot! Hot!'

My second oldest brother's back was entirely blistered, because he had been swimming wearing only a red swimming loincloth.
He pointed to my head, crying that the hair was burning and took me to the tap to spray my burning hair with water.
When we rushed home, the roof of our house seemed to have fallen in pieces onto the floor and we could see the sky.
My third and fifth oldest brothers were not even slightly injured, because both of them were behind the wall of the school.
Mother's face was injured near the nose by a broken piece of glass in the military factory at which she worked.

People began to take refuge, because fires were breaking out here and there in the city. Destroyed houses, undamaged houses; the roads were covered with tiles from collapsed roofs and debris which prevented us from walking barefoot. We went to the kindergarten we used to attend and asked them to lend us any footwear they had available. We walked east to take shelter.

Passing through the narrow passage under the elevated railway tracks, we reached a school, a temporary shelter, in Yaga and were accommodated upstairs.
Evacuees came by twos and threes from time to time.
Mother and my elder brother went back to the city to look for Father. In the evening, Father was seen walking staggeringly from Taisho Bridge or another bridge further up the river in ragged clothes.
Day in day out I watched from the second floor as refugees came to our shelter, and I saw a column of smoke from the burning of the remains on the hill.
Hiroshima was in flames for three whole nights. On the third evening, burning embers drifting in the air from the hill came in through the windows of the ground floor of our shelter.