JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Haruko Kaneyasu (female)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 23 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa
5643

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I am so Grateful for my Life

On the morning of August 6, I looked up at the blue sky, thinking, what a hot sunny day it was. Then suddenly, there was a yellow flash, so strong it was as though hundreds or even thousands of camera flashes had gone off at once. Before I could think of what had just happened a tremendous blast blew me away. I stood up in the cloud of dust, slowly and unsteadily, not having any clue as to which way was up. This was the moment the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

I went to the railroad, which was a few minutes away from my house, in order to get some information. There, I saw people with their clothes reduced to shreds and their hair standing straight up towards the heavens, slowly walking towards the seaside of Ujina. I couldn't even recognize their gender because of their gruesome condition. Among them were people on the verge of fainting, whose hair had burned and whose skin hung loosely from their hands. The skin on the backs of some people slid down to their belts and they seemed ready to faint. The center of the city had burst into flames and the red tongues of the fire were so violent and fierce that they continued to burn against the skies even throughout the night.

I waited till dawn, prepared my water bottle and air raid hood, and went to the center of the city in order to find my brother, who was at the drill grounds. When I got to Miyuki Bridge, I saw that the railings were gone. The other side of the bridge had burned away completely and I could see endless plains the color of black ashes. I poured onto myself whatever water I found on the way as I walked through the burning heat and hot weather. Soon I came across an incinerated train. Although the people inside had all been incinerated completely along with it, the railroad engineer was still standing on the footplate and the passengers were still in their seats. That sudden flash had turned everything into ashes instantaneously, before anyone had time to move. I shivered at the thought that this must be what hell looks like and ran towards the Hiroshima Castle like a terrified rabbit.

At the drill grounds, many of the soldiers lay dead. I looked into the black, scorched faces one by one; I lifted the heads of those who lay face-down and continued looking for my brother. Some people threw their arms around me and pleaded for water with hardly any life left in them, but I wanted to deliver the water I had to my brother so badly that I could not bring myself to give these people any. My heart still aches with self-reproach when I think of what I had done back then.

A few days later, I heard that four or five survivors from my brother's unit were staying at a private house in Onaga-machi. Too tired to go around all the houses one by one, I kept on yelling, "Is [my brother] here?" as I walked down the road. Then after walking past a few houses, I heard my brother yell "hey!" back in response. My brother was alive! He had a gash on his head, and dried blood stained both his shoulders. His ears were half cut as well. "My teeth all got chipped. I lost my katana too," he said. "It's ok since you survived," I replied, as I wiped off his blood. I then told him that I didn't have anything right now but that I would bring him some food tomorrow and went home. The next day, I brought him some powdered milk mixed with water. "I feel so much better now with this," he said delightfully.

Soon after, my brother was taken to an army hospital in Oono-mura. There were so many injured people sleeping there that the hospital rooms were full, and there was hardly any space to walk on in the common room. They all slowly weakened day by day because of their diarrhea and because there were no doctors or nurses to save them. Many patients kept dying, until there were only about half of them left.

On the morning of August 16, "Even if I live, I'm just going to be taken to the U.S. by officers, and forced to do hard labor because my country lost" my brother said, his eyes now unable to see. He then caressed the hands of everyone in the family as he said his last goodbyes and passed away.

Before he had time to enjoy his youth, experience love, and eat good food, my brother passed away because of a single bomb that the U.S. dropped onto us. How can I explain this sorrow and regret? I fell sick the day I brought home my brother's ashes. My diarrhea wouldn't stop and I got purple spots all over my body. Through my delirium, I heard my mom and little sister say, "All our neighbors who developed spots died. The family members burned the bodies because there are no crematories."

But 50 years after that, I'm still alive. And because I am, I can tell people about my experiences as an A-bomb survivor and the horrors of the A-bomb itself.

I'm so grateful for my life.
(Previously published text received 2010)