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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Toyoko Urabe (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.1 km from the hypocenter / 15 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.
At 11:02 on August 9, 1945, an A-bomb was dropped above Nagasaki and the town changed into a burned-out wasteland in a moment. Without thinking, I ducked under the lathe, and a bit later I looked up and saw there was nothing above me except the blue sky over the factory. I heard groans and screams for help from here and there. I did not have any presence-of-mind to wonder what on earth had happened. The only thought on my mind was just to get out of there.

In those days, I was in the third year of Nagasaki Prefectural Women's High School and was working as a member of Patriotic Volunteer Students at the steel machinery plant of the Ohashi Mitsubishi Arms Factory. I was making parts for torpedoes every day. On that day, when I had just switched on the machine to start it after the air raid warning had been called off, I saw a tremendous flash that I can not find the words to describe, and instantly I ducked under the machine.

I didn't know how much time had gone by. I became conscious and looked around only to see devastation beyond description. I was just overwhelmed by the scene. I talked with some friends of mine about how we should evacuate. We decided to go to the school over Nishiyama and went across the Urakami River behind the factory. There were many people burned all over their bodies by the bomb, coming to the river to drink its water--saying in weak voices "Give me some water…water!" What a living hell! I scooped up some water with my hands and gave it to them.

By the wall in front of the Francisco Hospital was a little boy, dead, completely naked with his head split into two. It was a scene I could not bear to look at for very long. I walked past with my palms put together as in prayer. The houses all around had collapsed.
On the way, I met one of my teachers and it was encouraging. While walking, I happened to see my uncle and I decided to go with him to check on my mother. I parted from my friends and went back the same way I had come. Everything had completely changed. There were numerous bodies in the Urakami River. All of them must have come to drink water. All that was left of the factory I worked at were iron poles sticking up in the air. There were piles of debris all around and it was hard to walk due to many fires popping up everywhere. There were many people dead hanging over the railing of the Ohashi bridge; apparently they had died while trying to get to the water in the river. There were several dead horses in the river. The Commercial School was burning furiously. Houses nearby were also burning. I managed to pass by Aburaki to Koebaru. At a small river I drank water until I was full. I noticed the right half of my body had been wounded from head to toe, bleeding from pieces of glass. Yet, I did not feel any pain.

With my uncle's help, I at last returned to my mother in the evening. She was elated to tears. She was happy to be safe because she had moved to her parents' house a few days earlier during the evacuation. My father was said to have gone to the factory with the fire fighters to look for my younger sister and me, which astonished me. Not knowing where my sister was, my mother and father went out to look for her for three days. When she came home safe in the evening three days later, we were very happy to be together again.

After a while, however, my hair began falling out because of the aftereffects of the A-bomb and my wounds from the glass were hurting. Pieces of glass were constantly coming out of my body. My gums were bleeding and spots popped up all over my body. Those symptoms made me stay in bed every day. Upon hearing that kuko plants could aid in healing, my mother went around to gather some and brewed a tea for me to drink. Then hearing that persimmon leaves helped, she went around to find some and brewed those for me as well. Parents' concern for their children is great. It was my parents' passionate love that allowed me to survive. That still warms my heart.

I will turn 80 years old this year, 65 years after the Atomic Bombing. Considering how miraculous it is that I have survived so far, I will always cherish my parents for their devoted love toward me.

Today the world seems to be ready to make a real effort to realize the total abolishment of nuclear arms. Still, A-bomb survivors spend each day desperate with the fear of death. Knowing my body is full of radiation, which might suddenly hurt me, I always thank the gods and my ancestors for keeping me safe each day. I pray for world peace to be realized soon and sincerely hope we will be able to live without fear. I do not know how much longer I can live. I pray from the bottom of my heart that people in the future will be able to live happy lives.