JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Noboru Yamaguchi (male)
'Chokubaku'  5 km from the hypocenter / 15 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo
5681

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Grave markers of sand. Light and shadow of the Hijiyama Hill that separated between life and death.
A roar and a blinding flash instantly separated the people of Hiroshima between life and death. On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m., as a mobilized student, I had just reached the armory behind the Hijiyama Hill and was about to set to work.
Third-year middle school students, including myself, were behind the hill and survived, while second-year students, who were working outdoors in the sun, were all wiped out. I wanted to go back to my house as quickly as possible. However, the roads leading to the city were all roped, prohibiting us from entering. From the city came hundreds and thousands of refugees. Injured with burns and clothes all in tatters, everyone somehow walked with both arms drooping in front of them as if they were ghosts. Two days later I finally entered the city. The city was still smoldering and the odor of burning bodies assailed my nose. "Student, please give me some water," a woman said in a fragile voice and tried to catch at my pants. Soldiers who had been working outdoors sat in a row, leaning their backs against the fence. Because of burns, their bodies and faces were swollen to twice the normal size and their eyes were drooping. In panic, I tried to find my parents. However, with corpses charred black and adults' bodies shriveled down to child size, I reconciled myself to the idea that it would be impossible to locate my parents.

Soon, dusk started to fall. I was going to lay my tired body down by the Motoyasu River, when I looked toward the riverbank. Many people, so many that the white sandbars were invisible, were crawling toward the river. Some breathed their last after a sip of water, and others died of exhaustion on the way.
Next morning when I woke on the riverbank, I gasped as I looked down toward the river. Those people who had covered the sandbars had all disappeared. Where did all the groans go? The white sandbars shimmering in the morning light in utter silence was beautiful, almost divinely so. Both the living and the dead had been washed away by the waves during high tide at night. I put my palms together, fantasizing that I saw hundreds and thousands of grave markers on the white sandbars of a hushed morning.
(2005)