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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Shigehiko Odani (male)
'Chokubaku'  2.2 km from the hypocenter / 14 years old at the time / current resident of Osaka

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. We are approaching the 58th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. I recall my sad memories: where was I that day? How did I manage to live on?

As one of sixty third-grade students in Hiroshima First Middle School, I was a mobilized student, working at a munitions factory in Funairi, Kawaguchi-cho. In the morning there was a sudden white flash, and my body became stiff. The factory was crushed by the strong blast. Luckily, I dove under the machines and managed to save myself by a hair width. But one of my classmates was crushed to death by falling objects. Many students were injured. All students were ordered to go home. As I ran up the bank of Hon River, I was at a loss for words.

"Water, please give me water." A mass of burned bodies took up the whole road, walking towards my direction. Their hair stood on end, skin turned up and hanging from both hands, and their clothes were burned and ragged. The closer I got to the center of the city, the more severe the conditions. I managed to get to Takanobashi intersection. On the railway line, only a few steel frames of trams escaped the fire. There were many charred bodies with their limbs spread out. I couldn't bear to look directly at the terrible sight.

My house in Minami Danbara-cho escaped the fire because Hijiyama Hill acted as a fire wall and shadow-shield. However, beams and pillars were bent.

The next day, I saw many cremations taking place.

The experience of that day has always followed me. I try to conceal my terror, but I cannot control it. I have suffered alone for a long time. I hear words from the land of the dead, telling me that the miserable scene was so hard to imagine.

*Recently, our society was shaken by the controversial result of the junior high school history textbook authorization. I feel that unless the history textbooks discuss the war, they leave a huge gap. I fear that this is the movement of justifying the dropping of the A-bomb and forgetting the responsibility for it.

The tremendous flash and sound made our land a living hell in an instant. It was an inhumane action. We should continue to pass this message on to the next generation and the world. These actions will be the starting point to keeping peace.

(Published in the "KOE" column of Asahi Shimbun, August 5 2003. *Text added in 2005)