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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Yoshiko Tomita (female)
'Chokubaku'  1.8 km from the hypocenter / 6 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
My Experience of the A-bomb
My family lived in Sumiyoshi-machi, Nagasaki (currently Akasako-2 chome), which was 1.8 km from the hypocenter of the A-bomb explosion. We lived in a two-storied row house of four units. One of our neighbors to the right worked at a health center in Nagasaki, and in the two units to our left lived the family of the director of a construction camp whose workers were digging tunnels nearby.

My family consisted of my mother (28 years old), my sister (4), my brother (1 year 8 months old), and me (6). My father was not at home. He used to be a chief engineer of the deep sea fishing company, Hiyashikane. Around the spring of 1944, father's ship was taken by the military. He was drafted near Singapore and ordered to repair ships, but soon when there were no more ships to repair, and he was summoned to join the army.

August 9 was a fine day, and mother went to the mountains to help the landlord's wife in the field. Six of us children (my siblings and I, the landlord's daughter who was a first grader, her younger brother, and a child from next door who was a fourth or fifth grader) were playing house on a straw mat spread in front of our house. Mother came back around 11 o'clock when the sunshine became strong. I noticed her first and ran into the house shouting, "mommy is back", and the others followed. As soon as we sat around mother, there was a broadcast to go into the air-raid shelter, although now I don't remember clearly the reason for it.

My father had left behind some cigarettes, so mother had taken up smoking here and there, but now it had become an addiction. So when everyone stood up to go to the shelter, she was still sitting and said, "Let me finish this drag." At that time, I went to the toilet. As soon as I started to pee, there was a flash, and when I looked up through a window above the bathroom, there ran a light like rainbow colors from upper right to the lower left which was immediately followed by a loud bang and the house swayed wildly. I was scared.

I pulled up my pants at once and went back to join everybody. Mother said "Drop down here, everyone!", so I threw myself down and waited until the shaking ceased. When it became quiet, mother said, "Now go to the shelter." So I went back to the front door to get footwear, but there was nothing there. The sliding glass doors were blown off and gone. The house was smashed and there was broken glass everywhere. When I told mother all the footwear was gone, she said to go barefoot. Holding my brother on her knees, she looked worried and kept wiping his face with her white apron. When I looked carefully, there was blood gushing from her own forehead onto my brother's face and she thought it was he who was injured. Although there were six of us in the house including my family of four, the girl from next door and the daughter of the landlord, thankfully, the only injury was mother's cut. There was another person, the son of the landlord, who was safe as he also was in the toilet of his house. Mother tied her wound with a triangular bandage and carried my brother on her back.

When we went outside, my brother's mattress, which had been spread on the roof of a shed to air dry, was on fire and burning. I called mother and she put out the fire with water from a fire cistern nearby. We were shocked when we looked back to see our houses. The house on the right was totally collapsed and falling into our house. Our house was leaning toward the house on the left, which looked like it would be crushed at any moment. We were fortunate that our houses were behind mountains, because other houses were completely demolished.