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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Mamoru Tanizaki (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 11 years old at the time / current resident of Nagano

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. On the day the A-bomb was dropped, I had evacuated to my relative's home in Aki District near Hiroshima. So I wasn't directly exposed to the radiation. On August 8, two days after the explosion, I went to Hiroshima and visited what remained of my house in Sarugaku-cho to search for my family, but couldn't find any signs of them. I reluctantly returned to Aki District the same day, but I went back to Hiroshima again and again and eventually found what had happened to them. It was then that I dug up my family's bones.

My mother had been away from our house volunteering around the town on the day of the explosion. She was demolishing buildings and houses. Despite surviving the initial explosion, she died eleven days later, on August 17, due to radiation exposure. I was just eleven years old at that time so it was hard for me to remember these events in great detail. However, I can still vaguely recall the horrors of the total devastation.

Around September or October of that year, my aunt, who had already evacuated to a safer area in Kabe, had me stay with her for the time being. At the beginning of 1946, my brother and I moved back to Hiroshima. All by ourselves, without sufficient food, we had difficult and desperate days.

From Misasa-machi, I walked to Sutoku Junior High School left in the ruins of a fire in Tokaichi-machi, in central Hiroshima. I could see bones in the wreckage of the houses beside the road on my way to school. To this day, the sights I saw are still burned in the back of my mind.

When I was in the second grade of junior high school, in the latter term of the year, one of my uncles invited my brother and me to Osaka. He offered us a job in his shop, and took care of us until our junior high school graduation. After our graduation, my brother found a job at a retail store in Shinsaibashi-suji, one of the busiest streets in Osaka, and I was hired as an errand boy at a kimono goods shop next to my uncle's. We somehow could get through our hard days.

Through various kinds of difficulties, I managed to survive. My brother and I started our own business when I was 25 years old. It had started as a small needlework store, but in the 1980s our company began to grow steadily until it earned two billion yen annually. Later, though sales dropped a little, due to Japan's economic bubble bursting in the early 1990s, my nephew became the company's president and has been maintaining the company well ever since. Partly due to disagreement over who should succeed our company, I moved to Nagano 15 years ago to run some guesthouses with my daughter and son-in-law. Currently we live a happy life.

The horrific sights after the explosion of the A-bomb -- people burning to death, their faces in blisters and their clothes in tatters. It was literally a hell on earth. When I think back to the anguished faces, mere child as I was, the helplessness I felt at that time fills me with regret, even now.

Unlike other bombs, thousands of people were thrown into turmoil from a single explosion. We should all work together that this will never happen again.

I pray that our message will reach all corners of the earth in the hope that our words of warning will prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else again.