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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Tokiko Nose (female)
'Chokubaku'  2.1 km from the hypocenter / 18 years old at the time
11061

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. The A-bomb was my last experience of war. When Japan surrendered and the war ended, I didn't know it had been an atomic bomb. Since I had been educated during the war, I thought it inevitable that I'd die anyway and accepted the defeat, without feeling any grudge against the Americans. I suffered from anemia and when I got injured it festered and my recovery was very slow. Tonsillitis caused high fever and I didn't have menstruation for a year. I just kept enduring all the sadness and poverty that were normal at that time.

Twenty years later, I felt much healthier and started often contemplating the meaning of my youth. Having lost many of my relatives and friends, I often wonder how my life could have been different if the A-bomb had not been dropped, but, as a survivor I've come to think, too, that I should live this life, cherishing every single day. There isn't much time left, but I hope to feel the joy of life somehow. All I can wish is that young people will not become involved in war.

How important education was (in those days)... As mobilized students we worked in a factory on three-day shifts, marching and singing war songs, and reciting The Imperial Rescript for Soldiers. We were prepared to die at any moment. I now recall those days as wasted time, but we were doing our best, waiting until we would win the war. It would be unimaginable for young people today. Please avoid nuclear war… I don't want to hear the roar of a B-29 ever again.
(2005)

I was 18 years old at the time of the A-bombing, a first-year student at Hiroshima Women's Technical College, and it was during the morning assembly in the auditorium, 2.1 kilometers [1.3 miles] from the hypocenter. We were directly exposed to the A-bomb. (Added later).
The Manchurian Incident, the China Incident and the Pacific War all took place during my childhood. I would see off soldiers at Ujina Port waving the Hinomaru, the national flag, from elementary school age. The A-bomb was my last war experience, and we were defeated. It was a defeat in war, not just an end of war. I had no idea it was an atomic bomb. Knowing nothing, I returned home in the evening avoiding the burned dead bodies. But I found no house there because of the blast, except for the remains of the entrance.

Passing through the hypocenter, I walked along the streetcar line from school in Minami-machi to the West Drill Ground and passed the Kohei Bridge to return to Ushita. Whoever was healthy was told to go back to work the next day. My parents went out to look for my elder brother, their only son, and my younger sister stayed at home. At the riverbank, soldiers were pulling out numerous dead bodies and piling them up on a large, two-wheeled cart. We women were told to push the carts to the crematorium. The bodies were swollen, their eyes staring at me like a Nio-Sama statue*. I had just turned eighteen. I was so scared that I ran back home. Every evening we could smell dead bodies being burned, but nobody talked about it. Everyone pretended that they didn't see the blue flames of phosphorus the bodies emitted.

Decades later I talked to my mother for the first time about those days. We were told that my brother had died instantly, and we never found his ashes. Losing many of my relatives and friends, I often wonder how my life could have been different if the A-bomb had not been dropped, but, as a survivor I've come to think, too, that I should live this life, cherishing every single day. There isn't much time left, but I hope to feel the joy of life somehow.

When the A-bomb was dropped I was at school, which was 2.1 kilometers [1.3 miles] away from the hypocenter. Although I ran home through the hypocenter on melting asphalt, I am still alive 65 years later. When I was young, I suffered from anemia, small cuts festered easily, and their recovery took a very long time indeed. I also had high fevers often and felt weak, but I didn't think it was due to the atomic bomb. All I could do was endure the suffering.

The Emperor spoke on the radio on the day of the surrender, and his words come back to my mind these days and I find myself murmuring how he said, "Endure the unendurable, bear the unbearable." These words seemed to have encouraged me and kept me alive. I only hope that young people will not get involved in war. We mobilized students worked on three-day shifts, marching while singing war songs, reciting The Imperial Rescript for Soldiers, and were prepared to die at any moment. I now recall that we spent the bloom of our youth doing our best only to win the war. It would be unimaginable for young people today. Please avoid nuclear war, at least. I don't want to hear the roar of a B-29 ever again.
(2010)

*muscular and wrathful guardians protecting the Buddha as fightening wrestler-like statues at the entrance of many Buddhist temples in Japan, China and Korea