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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Michiko Miyata (female)
'Chokubaku'  0.7 km from the hypocenter / 10 years old at the time / current resident of Nagasaki

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I was a fifth grader in elementary school, visiting a sixth grade friend at her house when it happened. A couple of steps forward, left and right, and I was under the collapsed house. I came to about thirty minutes later and managed to safely dig myself out from under the debris. I found out later that my friend had been severely burned over her entire body and had passed away that evening. I've never been back to Shiroyama since then.

On August 9, 1945, the air raid warning had been called off. At that time, I was studying at our sixth grade group leader's house, our neighbor Hisamatsu's house. At eleven o'clock, I saw my father riding his bicycle on the road over the field. So I said, "Oh, here comes my father. I'm going home." I took a few steps towards the dirt floor. My friend went out to the porch and said that a plane was approaching. Exactly at 11:02 a.m., I saw a strong flash of light and something which shone like the sun but which also looked like a round orange moon. Then I lost consciousness. When I came to, I found myself in a dark and cramped space, not quite sure how much time had passed. When I moved my body in this dark place, I felt something rough like dirt falling on me. Then I heard the voice of someone calling for survivors, and I cried out in response. It took a while for the full-grown man to dig me out from the collapsed house, but I was saved at last. The man who saved me was my friend's older brother. He told me that I had been under a big wooden beam, but luckily it got bent in a 90-degree angle and there was just enough space for me to fit under it.

I had been saved without any injuries. When I got outside, I found that nothing remained. My friend's big brother took me to a nearby area to which everyone was being evacuated. Everyone there was injured, and lying on the ground was someone who had been burned coal-black. I was told by an adult that it seemed a bomb had been dropped.

Although I had no shoes and had to go barefoot, I felt no pain. I ran home with my younger sister, since my house was located nearby. There I found my unconscious father wrapped in a sheet. I watched over him with my grandmother, younger sister and brother. Even though I was only a fifth grader at Shiroyama National Elementary School, I felt strongly that I had to protect my family. As evening came, I heard people around him began to whisper that he would not make it. I also overheard voices exclaiming how unfortunate it was that he had to leave so many children behind. I became overwhelmed by fear, and since we could not make a fire to avoid being spotted by the enemy, we gathered by a creek in the forest. Under the moonlight, I ate some dried bread which my grandmother had prepared, and we slept together side by side.

My father still did not move the following morning even as it got brighter outside, but he finally regained consciousness about 24 hours after the bomb had been dropped. The atmosphere grew still brighter when my father said he was hungry, so my grandmother cooked us some rice. He ate that rice, saying how delicious it was over and over again. It was about 3 hours later that he told us we wouldn't be able to do anything there. My mother, elder sister and six month old sister were in Aburaya-machi. He was worried about them so he asked my grandmother to look after my younger sister and brother, and asked me to go along with him. So my father and I set out for Aburaya-machi together.

Over the burned fields of ruins, there were many human corpses and the dead bodies of coal-black horses whose eyeballs had popped out. The bodies were scattered everywhere on the ground. I got exposed to radiation from the atom bomb as I was walking through the neighborhood formerly known as Shiroyama 2-chome, which was seven hundred meters away from the hypocenter. My father walked firmly, holding a stick in his hand. After we had walked for a while, I saw that Shiroyama National Elementary School was still standing, looking slightly sooty. I was really happy to see it for some reason. At that time, only two months had passed since I had transferred there from Shinkozen National Elementary School. I was really glad to see my school was still there. As we were walking between corpses and burned things, we came upon a train completely charred black with dead human bodies piled up against it one upon another. There was no space left for us to walk and so we couldn't go any further. We decided to walk along the railroad tracks. When we got near Urakami station, we saw a gas company gas tank burning fiercely.