The text area starts here.

  • Before reading this site

Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Yumiko Tokumi (female)
'Chokubaku'  2.5 km from the hypocenter / 14 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. My father and I lived in an area close to Heiwa Ohashi called Otemachi 6-chome, which is currently Otemachi 3-chome. [Before the A-bombing,] we received a notification saying that we had to destroy our house before the entire family evacuates. My father and I stayed behind to do this. Oddly, both of us were able to survive although the entire neighborhood was wiped out (from the air raids). On the night of August 5, I had a strange feeling that a big, black cloud of smoke was coming from the inside of our house to attack us, and I didn't want to stay there anymore. I begged my father to let us leave, and although he was reluctant, we ended up riding the last train of the day and fled to a place of refuge. Thankfully, my father was able to stay alive. The next day, I was mobilized to work at a factory in Yoshijima-cho, 2.5 kilometers [about 1.6 miles] away from ground zero. I was a fourteen-year old girl in ninth grade at the time. At 8:15 a.m., there was a sudden explosion of sound and light, and the ceiling of the factory collapsed. I quickly ducked under a small table nearby to avoid being crushed to death. Around me, people were crushed by the fallen ceiling and lockers, and people by the windows got cut by the broken glass or burned. People who had been outside during the explosion got burned to an extent that their skin color turned brown, and there people who were bleeding from head wounds and looked like Oiwa[1]. I was somehow unscathed, and that was painful to bear.

At around noon, five or six of us gathered and headed for Midorii, our place of refugee. We crossed the burning ruins of the town and headed toward Koi. On a bridge there was a row of people sitting and talking. The skin of their upper bodies had completely peeled off, exposing the red tissue underneath. I couldn't imagine how painful that must have been. A little girl about three years old was sitting alone in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at us as we walked by. An exhausted middle school student came from the direction of ground zero, wearily walking toward us and finally collapsed right in front of us. A burned, naked woman, her skin the color of chocolate, was lying on the ground crying for help. Unable to do anything to help, we passed by in silence. Recalling my inaction is unbearably painful. Ever since that day, I've thought that I won't complain about how I die, no matter how terrible my death might be. Why did I have to survive unscathed? What is the purpose of my living? I still can't answer these questions to this day. Life after the war was difficult for me. I hated the fact that I had survived. If a nuclear bomb were to fall again, I wanted it to fall right above me so I could turn to ashes and die in seconds.

The seventh- and eighth-grade girls from the school in Hiroshima were evacuated to a designated shelter only a kilometer [about 0.6 miles] away from what would become ground zero. My little sister was among this group of girls. She never came back.

[1] Oiwa is the female protagonist from a well-known ghost story adapted from the kabuki play, Yotsuya Kaidan. Poisoned by her husband, Oiwa becomes grotesquely disfigured and her hair falls out. After she dies, Oiwa, still disfigured, returns as a ghost to punish her husband.