JAPANESE

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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Toshiyuki Takahashi (male)
'Chokubaku'  2.3 km from the hypocenter / 14 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima
13141

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. Recollections from around the time of the atomic bombing
On the 50th memorial of the deaths of my mother and father

Before the bombing

As the Pacific War entered its terminal stage in 1945, the crunch of the war situation became even more tangible.
Whenever young employees were drafted from the company where my father worked, the Chugoku branch of Nihon Hassoden K.K. (Electric Generation and Transmission Company), they came to our home in Higashi Senda-machi to bid farewell. My father occasionally gave such visitors a military sword as a send-off gift.

One day my aunt and uncle from Fukuyama stayed overnight with us. My uncle was on his way to the front. They talked until late at night with my parents. I thought it terrible that my fifty-year old uncle had to be drafted. I also thought that my father wouldn't be drafted because he was near-sighted.
The following morning I left for school, for some reason without greeting my uncle. Along the way, somewhere near the Senda-machi Postal Savings Bureau, I noticed my uncle smiling and waving at me from the streetcar. Suddenly gripped by the idea that I might never see him again, I gave him a salute. While praying for his safety, I resolved that I too should join the battle as soon as possible.

At that time in cities across Japan, B-29 bombers and aircraft carrier planes were in the skies almost every day. Cities near Hiroshima such as Kure, Okayama and Tokuyama had already been bombed. But despite daily air raid warnings, Hiroshima had not been bombed. My classmates and I talked about why, and in our childish reasoning, we decided the enemy might be planning to destroy the dam upstream on the Ota River to inundate Hiroshima.
But at breakfast on the morning of April 30, after a hissing sound like pinwheel fireworks, the sound of explosions rang out. A bomb had fallen nearby. Without thinking, I took shelter under the low dining table, flat on the tatami floor. My mother, who was in the kitchen, saw that and scolded me, "you sissy." I went to school without saying anything and on the way home went to the spot where the bomb had fallen.
It was at the storehouse of the Chugoku Power Distribution Company (now the Chugoku Electric Power Company), near the Kokutaiji Temple in Zakoba-machi. One of the firefighters said the bomb was 500 kilograms (1,200 pounds) and the diameter of the crater it made was 17 meters (18 yards).

One week earlier, my younger brother Makoto, a fifth grader at Senda National Elementary School, had been sent to the rural area in northern Hiroshima on the school evacuation program (Footnote 1). The rest of us evacuated from the eastern part of downtown Higashi Senda-machi to the western suburbs of Furutamachi-Takasu in early May. We moved into the second floor of the Ichii family's house.
From that month, my younger sister Kazuko became a first grader at Furuta National Elementary School. I was in my second year at the Hiroshima Second Middle School in Nishi Kan'on-machi. My father worked at the Otemachi branch of the Nihon Hassoden K.K. The worsening war situation became ever more personal.