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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Youko Yakushiji (female)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 18 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima
8569

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Even though I saw a B-29 in the sky, it did not strike me as anything serious because it was only one. So I started sewing in my house. Then, I saw a pink and aqua colored flash at the window. I rushed toward the air raid shelter right after the flash, only to be hurled by the bomb blast into the shelter.
At first, it was calm around me but soon it became noisy in the air raid shelter. Since my house was located right in front of an elementary school, some school children came inside the shelter for help. Their clothes were smoldering here and there. They came to the shelter to seek help, but once they realized that our place had also been bombed, they left to find another safe haven.
The ceiling of my house crumbled, a wall clock was thrown out of the house, and pillars were pierced with shards of glass.

As I evacuated the shelter, I saw people who would turn pale, collapse and die right before my eyes. I also witnessed some people burned black seeking help who would die instantly.
I slept outside with my father and my younger brother at night, and we heard horrible groaning all night. A child lying next to me was asking for water. When the day broke, I found the child, who appeared to be of elementary school age, dead, burned black as coal. Right next to him was another child who appeared to be the boy's elder brother, his terribly burnt face nearly unrecognizable, holding the boy's body tightly. There were so many dead, and I myself barely managed to survive; yet I regret even now not being able to do anything to help them.
Around noon, my father, my younger brother and I evacuated to a rural area. We saw burned people en route. We made our way through, stepping aside as they passed. I witnessed bodies of people who rushed to the river. I also saw people just sitting along the street with no expression on their face.
So many things happened, I cannot write them all. Now that I am suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, I cannot talk much and I do not have much energy.
(2005)

After the bombing, I stayed at a house in Ushita-machi. A truck (I think of the agricultural cooperative) made a daily round trip between Ushita-machi and the epicenter area every other day; so I traveled to Hiroshima almost every other day.
My house near the epicenter had two rooms, an eight and a ten tatami-mat room. These rooms were used as a makeshift shelter and refugees lay on our futon. Their eyes were wide open, but their faces were expressionless. I still remember big, fat maggots spilling out of their wounds.
I had never seen such fat, large maggots. A woman was repeatedly sweeping the maggots out into the yard with a bloom and a paper fan. Looking back, I wish I had helped her.

When I went back to my house in Hiroshima the next day, I found that the number of patients had decreased. Every time I went there, more and more people disappeared. The people there seemed more in a state of numbness than suffering. Even when maggots spilled out of their wounds, nobody brushed them away with their hands. So many maggots kept swarming out of the wounds that little could be done.
I also remember seeing many dead bodies piled up in a house while I was evacuating from the devastated area. Around the middle of the pile, I recognized one person slightly moving a hand.

It truly was a hellish nightmare.
Starting around September, I developed anemia and had to stay flat in bed at home. At that time, doctors had no idea how to treat us, and I only received drip infusion. My mother heard from someone that unripe persimmons worked well for treating anemia. She fed me the fruit, grated. Even now, I can not bite hard food because my gums hurt. When I had trigeminal neuralgia, for about ten years I was unable to open my mouth. With a treatment of injections to my face, I can somehow open my mouth now. But there is no telling what may happen next. Two of my children developed cancer, and one of them is still receiving medical treatment.
I was born and raised in Osaka. I went to an elementary school and a junior high school there. I was exposed to the bomb right after we evacuated from Osaka to Hiroshima. My father had graduated from a university in Osaka and got a job there.
(2010)