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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Shizue Tonegawa (female)
'Chokubaku'  0.7 km from the hypocenter / 19 years old at the time / current resident of Wakayama

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
On August 9, 1945, the day the A-bomb was dropped, I was 18 years old and lived in Isahaya.

My 17 year-old cousin who lived in Sakamoto-machi had been assigned to report to the air force base in Kanoya, Kagoshima prefecture, on August 10 by the student mobilization order. So I had come to Sakamoto-machi, which was several hundred meters away from the hypocenter, for his farewell party.

While my relatives went food shopping for the party, I was heading for my friend's house nearby.

I felt relief as the air raid warning was called off around 10:30 a.m. At that time, a district guard near me noticed two airplanes in the western sky and shouted "B-29s are coming. Run away right now. You will be killed!" Nearby, there were five air raid shelters in a row.

However, I hesitated to enter those shelters because I was a citizen of Isahaya. Then, a district guard, aged around 50, pushed me into a shelter. At that moment I saw a blinding flash and lost consciousness from the blast.

I finally regained consciousness around five o'clock in the afternoon. I could not move at all because my body was crushed under a lead door. While I was roaring helplessly, I was rescued by a parent and child I did not know, who were shouting, "Is anyone here alive?" as they searched for their relatives. I stood up and noticed that all the people who had fled to the air raid shelter were dead, changed into bodies with charred and swollen skins or strange lumps of flesh. I could not tell the difference between male and female. The district guard who'd led me into the air raid shelter was also dead, hardly recognizable.

There were many charred, stiff bodies, burned by the deluge of fire, piled up around me. Getting out of there, I trod on them and I ran to the Sakamoto International Cemetery through the stench of scorched dead bodies.

Later, I learned that when the atomic bomb was dropped, my cousin and his sister were buried under the house and killed in the fire. In all, 27 of my relatives were dead. By then all of my hair had fallen out, I suffered from bloody stools, and my body weight had decreased from around 50 kilograms to 32 kilograms.
The incident that occurred in a moment still remains fresh in my mind, even after 60 years. I have days of tears when I recall it. The number of A-bomb survivors is decreasing. Wars are started by human beings, and wars kill many people, burn houses, extinguish everything and destroy peoples' bodies and souls. This is the sorrow only victims and survivors know.
Earthquakes are inescapable, but wars can be avoided.
I hope there will never be any more wars.