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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Chieko Taniguchi (female)
'Chokubaku'  2.7 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Osaka

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. On August 6, I remember the sky was a clear blue and it was a very hot day.
At that time, all segments of Japanese society contributed to the war effort, even the students.
My office, where I worked at a branch of the Hiroshima Army Clothing Depot, was in Hatsukaichi.
My house was east of Hiroshima Station, and Hatsukaichi was about twenty kilometers [12.4 miles] west of my house. I usually started work at seven in the morning, heading home again at six in the evening.

On August 6, I left home early as usual, catching the train through the area which would be the epicenter of the PIKADON shortly afterwards. That morning I was walking with friends along the national road when at 8:15 am PIKA! a bright flash occurred, and we heard a tremendous sound.
We rushed to find cover,, hiding in bamboo bushes on the road's verge. We supposed some bombs had fallen and exploded nearby. I heard the sound of glass breaking in adjacent houses and watched a mushroom cloud rising in the east. It was rumored that bombs had been dropped in Hiroshima. Looking up at the sky, we saw what looked like a shower of confetti; gold and silver colors falling from far above, brightly reflecting the sun. The sight was very beautiful. Even now I wonder what they really were.

That night, we heard that Hiroshima was submerged in a sea of fire and that we would not be able to go home, so we slept together in a wide space nearby, huddling together overnight.
The next day I left for home early in the morning. As the trains were running, I took a train, albeit only part of the way. On the train, I saw a man whose face was so swollen his eyelids were tightly shut. As he could not see anything, he was trying to keep his eyelids open with his fingers as he got off the train. When I also got off, I walked on for a while. When I came to the city, I found it had been reduced to a jumble of burned ruins.
Near the explosion's epicenter, there were many corpses lying by the river and on the bridge. The corpses were naked and it was impossible to distinguish women from men. To this day I recall that every corpse was brown.
I saw some people whose hands were just clutching onto nothing. I also saw bodies of children. I heard that the fireball's heat had forced many people to dive into the river. Some trams were completely burned. All that remained were the frames. Horses were also dead.
It really looked like an inferno. Worrying about my house and family, I headed home around noon. My house was not burned, but it listed heavily, and the glass doors were completely broken.

Whenever there was an air raid, we ran into a shelter and we often hung around the fire-ravaged city. One day, I saw pairs of soldiers collecting corpses, one holding the head, the other the legs and placing them in a pile.

On August 14, two men arrived at my house and insisted that I go to the office the next day without fail. So on the 15th, I left home around 5 am. At 12 pm, we heard that Japan had been defeated. On that day, as usual, I worked until 6 in the evening, and then came home. Unfortunately, I was alone at the office. By the time I got to Hiroshima, it was very dark. There were three rivers in the burned - out ruins that formed the western part of Hiroshima. No one could be seen. I went looking to find a bridge that crossed the river. When I found the bridge had been destroyed, I had to retrace my steps. Instead I attempted to cross the railroad bridge. However, as the railroad bridge was only laid with ties, my arms and legs trembled with fear and I could not walk forward. Holding on to the track, I crept along the railroad bridge crying. When I got near the epicenter, the scene frightened me. I stood still in horror. I had come to the very place where the corpses were gathered and burned.

Phosphors were glowing in bluish-white in drops all over the place. Alone in the pitch-dark burned out ruins, I thought it might be the last thing I would see. My heart ached and was cold as ice. I passed through the area vacantly.
After that, I spent time with my friends and thus was relieved.
Thereafter, I crossed the railroad bridge every day. But it was hard to cross the railroad bridge in the darkness. At high tide, the water almost touched my feet. The difficulties meant that I every night I got home well after 11pm.

One day, at the station I saw a man whose back was badly burned and infested with lots of maggots. Another man, probably the station attendant, was removing them with chopsticks. On the way home late at night, I saw a woman burning corpses in front of a collapsed house. A bad smell hung in the air.
At that time, people called the atomic bomb "PIKADON" meaning a tremendous flash and sound.
It was really terrifying. I clearly remember that on the day the war ended, I was glad. I gave a sigh of relief thinking that I would no longer have to escape into air raid shelters at midnight, and could use electricity again.