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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Takayuki Araki (male)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 18 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.
The day after the A-bomb was dropped, as I went to the Mitsubishi Young Men's Technical School in Hamaguchi-machi, I saw that friends had been burned alive and factories were all destroyed, dead people were rolled over one another, and in particular, a train had collapsed, with its passengers reduced to skeletons. It was just impossible to accept that I was really seeing such things, so atrocious was the situation. I was a resident of the Akunoura dormitory, and since there were only 23 survivors out of 150 boarding students, I went to Hamaguchi-machi every day and carried both survivors and the remains of the deceased, using a wooden door as a stretcher, back to the dormitory. Around the third day after the A-bomb was exploded, families and relatives worrying whether students survived started to arrive to inquire about them. It was horrible. Even thinking back now, I can't talk about it without tears.

An atomic bomb experience
I was born on June 10, 1927 (82 years old at the time of this writing), the eldest of nine brothers. Our father was a farmer.

I graduated from Yue Elementary School, and in the spring of the year that I turned fifteen, I entered the Nagasaki Mitsubishi Technical Shipyard School, starting out in the advanced course, then moving on to the master's course. As the war gradually came to be lost, Kyushu came under increasing attack by air raids. On August 1, Nagasaki Station and nearby Mitsubishi Shipyard in Mizunoura were also attacked by air raids.

Just at that time, I was on my way back from Mitsubishi Technical School in Urakami with five or six underclassmen, and we rushed into a half-finished air raid shelter in Mizunoura. Just then, a bomb was dropped about one hundred meters[109 yards] from the air raid shelter, and the bomb blast was so strong that it was hard to keep standing even fifteen meters [about 49 feet, or 16 yards] deep inside the air raid shelter. I talked to the students about how scary the aerial bombing was, and I told them to be sure to move quickly into an air raid shelter whenever aerial bombing occurred. When I went outside and looked around, broken pieces of bombs, burned purple from the explosion, were stuck in telephone poles. Smoke was smoldering, lingering in the air, and about five or six private homes had been wiped out, leaving no trace behind; the area was already in flames. It was disastrous.

After several days, stories started to circulate about Okinawa's honorable defeat, as well as about a new type of bomb having been dropped on Hiroshima. Then it was the last stage of the war, on August 9, 1945, at around 11 a.m. in Nagasaki. There were students from a women's school in the city, working in shifts of three months, who had come as members of the Patriotic Volunteer Corps to help out with work on lathes located (due to the decentralization of small machines) at the remodeled Mitsubishi Nagasaki Young Men's Technical School gymnasium in Hamaguchi-machi.

The students were from various schools including Tamaki, Junshin, Kassui, and Keiho high schools. These people from the Patriotic Volunteer Corps had moved quickly into the air raid shelter upon hearing the caution and warning alarms. Because the students had evacuated, I went to turn in the attendance roster to the main office behind the north wing, took the train from Hamaguchi-machi to Ohato and hurried to the wharf. The ferry to Mizunoura had already left from the port, however, which meant that I could not make it back to Hamaguchi-machi by noon; instead I hurried to catch the city ferry for Asahi-machi which was on the other side of the wharf.

As the bell gave the signal for departure and the crew was untying the rope from the wharf, a flash of light suddenly appeared, and I threw myself down between the ship and the wharf with both hands pressed over my eyes and ears. Just at that moment, everything went pitch-dark and completely silent, and I remained motionless. Shortly after that, I heard the clattering sound of someone running on the wharf, and I realized I had survived.

I also took off from the wharf in a great hurry and ran along the front of the Bunmeido Building in order to get to the air raid shelter on the west side of the prefectural office. This air raid shelter was still half-dug with trolley rails laid in it, but it was fully occupied with a large number of people who had come to escape and take refuge. Among them were people who had been blown down by the bomb blast near Goto-machi, and had collapsed near the entrance of the air raid shelter, shaking and completely naked with their skin all peeled and hideously burned, except for their palms and the soles of their feet.

I had also noticed that among the passengers on the city ferry in the cabin were five or six comfort women from Inasa; because it was summer and the door had been open, the skin on their faces and heads had been peeled away, and they rushed into the air raid shelter shaking and making rattling sounds. As I imagine that those women had been exposed to the A-bomb on their way back home to Inasa from battlefields where they had worked for the past two or three years, I also felt what a fleeting thing life is, and I still can't forget how pitiful it was, even after sixty-five years have gone by.