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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Teiji Okada (male)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 15 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. Thoughts about the Atomic Bomb, November 2005
I was in the fourth year at Hiroshima Prefectural Daiichi Middle School.[1] Due to the mobilization of students, I was working in a factory belonging to the Asahi Precision Instrument Co. in Eba. When the bomb exploded, I was working outside the factory. I immediately dove to the ground, but still felt the powerful bluish white light, the heat wave, the intense sound of the explosion and the resulting shock wave and its reverberations through my whole body. Although I was fortunate not to have been injured, I knew this was no ordinary bomb because it lit the dry grass around me on fire and also destroyed part of the factory building that I remember being very solid and firm.

All the students were dismissed around 9 a.m. and everyone was allowed to go home. My house was at the rear entrance of Nobori-cho Elementary School and the fastest way for me to go home from Eba was across the city center, but in that direction there were fierce flames rising under ever-growing dark clouds, like thunderheads. When I saw the confused mass of wounded people in scorched clothing down the main avenue where the streetcars running toward the city center were coming, I checked out the main street leading to the city that streetcars ran on and realized that all the steel-reinforced utility poles had been knocked down in the same direction, I knew then that I could'nt get home by going directly through the city center. Our teachers instructed us to locate others who lived in the same area, form groups if possible, and take a long way home avoid the central area of the city. So we headed to Koi, which is west of Eba, then north to Yokokawa, then south toward home. By the time I arrived at Yokokawa around 3 p.m. the flames had begun to die down and it wasn't too hot to walk on the ashes. There were areas around some bridges still burning, so twice I couldn't cross a bridge and had to cross rivers on foot. I was caught in the black rain.

As I got closer to the center, the damage got worse and worse. When I passed through Yokokawa I saw many people whose clothes had been burned off, leaving them basically naked and bleeding from their heads and torsos, the skin on their faces and hands blistered and peeling. The skin peeled from their arms and hung in long strips from their fingertips. They moaned "Water, water..." and wandered like ghosts. The sky was dark with smoke, burning embers floated here and there, and I was filled with despair. At the Nobori-cho streetcar stop were four or five people who had died with their faces immersed in the fire prevention water tank. So many dead bodies, black as charcoal, were lying everywhere that it was a struggle for me just to keep walking.

My house was completely destroyed by the fire. For a moment I was devastated at the thought that both my parents had been killed and I was now alone, but soon I found a piece of wood leaning against the stone gatepost with "Teiji, Father and Mother are alive, hurry to the Sakae Bridge" written in coal in my father's hand. I was overjoyed. I crossed the collapsed power poles and remains of houses and reached the Sakae Bridge. I found my father there, naked except for his loincloth, and my mother, too injured to move, lying down by the levee. Concerned about the incoming tide that would raise the river level, we decided to bring her higher up on the levee. My father lifted her from the lower body and I pulled her up from above. I needed to hold onto something so I reached out to grab what looked like a tree root, but it wasn't a root. It was a human leg.