JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Taira Ogoshi (male)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 9 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
4867

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Nishi-Hiroshima is the station after Hiroshima Station and is where you take the train to go to Miyajima. We lived right near the tracks, fairly close to the station. I was nine years old and lived with my father, mother and two year old sister. My sister was sickly, and while I don't know what was wrong with her, she was bedridden.
I also had a baby brother who had just been born. He was one week old on August 6 and this was the day his name was to be decided. He was named Shinji. My father was probably intending to write the baby's name on a piece of paper and hang it on the wall, so he told me to prepare some sumi ink so he could write the name with a calligraphy brush. I was right in front of a glass window.

The blast wasn't as though it came from here and went to there, like the wind, but perhaps you could say it was more like the air around us suddenly burst apart.

When I came to, everything was in shreds ― wood, paper, pieces of furniture, glass (I was injured by this glass), piled high and scattered all about. I couldn't figure out why I was there and just stood upright in a daze. I happened to bring my hand to my cheek and I think three of my fingers fit right inside.

It sounded like my father shouted "Let's get out of here." He took my sister in his arms. My mother ran to the second floor and came down with my brother. I heard this later, but the second floor ceiling had fallen down and my brother had been buried below the wreckage.

We saw several schoolgirls with their hands held out in front of them, their wrists hanging down, looking exactly like Japanese ghosts. No one was with them to guide them or help. Their arms, or should I say the skin on their arms, was peeling off and hanging down. They seemed to be saying, "Help," but you couldn't understand them. There were people too weak to walk, people too discouraged to run, and people just lying on the road. We were trying to escape, but where could we go? There was a mountain nearby (a low mountain), and perhaps at best we could hide in the woods. But really, all that was left to do was just escape. From where we were.

As we were trying to escape, the "black rain" began to fall. Someone screamed, "It's black, so it must be oil. We're done for if it catches on fire!"

My cheek had swollen up like a balloon.

But all we wanted to do was hide in the trees on the mountain. Our house hadn't burned down, so my father went back to get mosquito netting. We attached the four corners to trees and that is where we spent the night.
In the darkness of the night, with the droning of B-29 bombers in the distant skies (did we hear them just once or was it many times?), my brother passed away. My father stayed by his side until the end, using the light of a cigarette to see him as long as possible. The next day, my father and mother took my brother away someplace. I guess they buried him somewhere.

Miraculously, my sister recovered her health after the blast.

We went to my elementary school, which was being used as a first aid center, for treatment. What we saw when we went into one of the classrooms was a scene from hell. I think they were all dead, but human bodies turned blue, red and purple lay scattered about. Some were lying one on top of another. I couldn't move, but even so, I tried to get out of there.

Then I heard the sound of bombs from a B-29. All I felt was pure terror. Without thinking, I jumped out of the window. Even though there were shards of glass all over outside.

A few days later, they dug a long deep hole in the schoolyard about 10 feet wide, threw the bodies in (maybe that's not quite the proper expression) and burned them. I don't think I will ever forget that smell as long as I live.

There was a big river near the house we used to live in. It flowed in from the sea and was about knee deep at low tide and about 2 meters (6 feet) deep at high tide. Children used to play in the river during the summer.

The riverbank was wide and we used it to grow food, even though the land wasn't ours. We were growing kabocha pumpkins then. I forget when it was, the day after the blast or later, that my mother and I went to get something to eat.

The tide was coming in and the water was flowing upstream. What did we see flow in with the water but cows, swollen to three times their normal size! There must have been at least ten cows or more floating along.

Unnerved, we headed on to the field. I couldn't believe what I saw when I got there. There were dead bodies all over. They were burned and melted in a horrible way, but somehow they had crawled up there and became corpses. We couldn't pick the huge, ripe pumpkins under those conditions and ran back home.

After about a year, I had cheek surgery at a real hospital and my face returned to normal. They said they found many shards of glass in my cheek.
(2010)