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Messages from Hiroshima

Japanese version

Toshiyuki Mimaki (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 3 years old at the time / current resident of Hiroshima

The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages. I was living near the Utsu railroad crossing in Imuro village at that time. On the evening of August 6, a woman wearing tattered clothes dropped in on us. She had a can of food with her and asked my mother to open it. My mother used her can opener, and then the woman ate it and left. After that my mother said the woman would probably die.

Although I was still a child on the afternoon of August 6, I remember seeing something like paper falling, fluttering down from the sky over the Ota River. Around Showa 22, on the way to my relatives in Ujina, I remember that I saw a streetcar laying on its side. Two years had passed since the A-bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, but the streetcar remained. Now who can imagine such a thing?

With the help of consultants who work with A-bomb victims, we are planning to publish a kind of "personal history" in Heisei 24.

I am also in the middle of writing "My Life and the Bombing of Hiroshima." Though I have not finished it yet, I will send a part of it to you.

"My Life and the Bombing of Hiroshima"

I was born in Shimura-cho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo in March, 1942 (Showa 17). Now that I think of it, three months before I was born the Japanese Navy attacked and sank American destroyers off the coast of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific War began. I was told that my parents married in January of the previous year, which means they had been married for 14 months by the time I was born.
I heard that my father worked for a chemical plant in Shimura, Itabashi-ku and my mother was raising the children of a fatherless family. I have some pictures of my parents in those days. When I moved to the upper grades of elementary school, my mother often told me about those days, filled with longing for the past.

According to my parents, on March 10, 1945 (Showa 20), thinking that remaining in Tokyo―especially with the commencement of the firebombing―would draw them into the war and make things extremely difficult. They decided to evacuate to my father's hometown of Hiroshima for the time being. In April, we left the devastated ruins of Tokyo and temporarily rented a vacant house we had found through an introduction by my father's uncle. That house was located in Utsu in Imuro Village, Asa County. The place where we evacuated to was located near a railroad crossing in the countryside, right on the Ota River. Though our family was living in a rented house, it seemed that we had returned to a calm and peaceful life. I remember that my mother would take me and my little brother to the other side of the Ota River by boat, so that she could buy vegetables from a farmer. That made quite an impression on me.

It seems that my father worked at an engine depot for the Hiroshima branch of the National Railway, while my mother did her very best to raise me and my little brother. It was on August 6, 1945 (Showa 20) that I saw a sudden flash in the sky when I was playing in front of the house. At that time I was only three years and four months old, but I remember it. During the afternoon I saw throngs of people walking down the street past the house, moving from Nuno towards Kake. I had no way of knowing that they had been wounded by an A-bomb attack on Hiroshima. I remember there being among them a lone woman dressed in rags who looked like a beggar. She called at our house and said to my mother, "Please open this can." My mother opened the can of peaches with a can opener, put the contents into a bowl and gave it to the woman. While eating, the woman continued on her way from Nuno towards Kake.

Later on my mother said to me, "I suspect that woman will have died."

That evening I remember watching from my house as something like paper fluttered and danced amidst the strange crepuscular sky over the Ota River.

As for my father, while changing into his work clothes at an underground dressing room in Hiroshima Station, he saw a flash before his very eyes and heard a loud noise. This was at 8:15 in the morning.

According to my father, when he came above ground he thought that Hiroshima had been completely destroyed. The surrounding station square had been engulfed by a sea of flames, and many people had collapsed and burned to death. He told me that buildings had caught fire and people had been burned, and that everyone was in a state of panic with no idea what to do. Sometimes I think that if my father had told me more about the A-bomb when I was in my teens, I could have learned about it in detail. My mother talked about it a lot, but my father was in the city and hence experienced it directly.