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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Masachika Sakai (male)
'Chokubaku'  2.6 km from the hypocenter / 16 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
Having lived long
I am now past seventy ―
my little brother
in the explosion of that day
met his end in Nagasaki.

He was born on November 3, 1931 and died at the age of thirteen years and nine months. He was a mobilized middle school student working at the Mitsubishi Arms Factory when he experienced the bombing. I was also a middle school student mobilized to work at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. After a night shift, I was sleeping at home 2.6 kilometers southeast from the hypocenter. Just after 11 o'clock on the morning of August 9, I was awakened by the deafening roar and blast. Our house was totally demolished. I immediately ran to my uncle's house one kilometer southwest of mine. My uncle was out. No one was home. His house was only slightly damaged and I was relieved thinking that we could ask him to put us up. I drank some water from his well and decided to go home. I stopped short after walking 500 meters. An inferno was raging before me. I was petrified. Somehow the summer sun was black. I think this was 30 minutes after the A-bomb was dropped. "Our house is burning!" The moment I thought so, I saw in my mind's eye my father and mother, both of whom had died of illness when I was in elementary school. "A huge bomb, no doubt! And my brother…?" I was filled with anxiety.

My 21-year old sister was at the former city museum. The building had been requisitioned by the army and she was working there as a typist. It only suffered minor damages. I cried when I saw her and found that she was safe. After I ate some hardtack she gave me, I went back to my uncle's house. The fire had spread and destroyed it. I felt anxious about the whereabouts of my uncle and his family. I returned to my sister's workplace to rest. I was given a rice ball in the evening. I can still remember how it tasted and how grateful I felt. While praying for my brother's safety, I fell asleep in the storeroom of the building. I couldn't wait for the day to break.

On August 10, as soon as I woke I headed toward the hypocenter to search for my brother. On the way I saw the debris of our house. The only thing left were the steel parts of my sister's favorite sewing machine. Pots, the brick kitchen sink... nothing else remained. So this was what it meant "to be reduced to ashes." I was able to see far beyond Urakami from Nagasaki Station. From the devastation, I thought it was the new-model bomb. On the night of August 7, my brother-in-law had told my brother and me about such a bomb that had attacked Hiroshima. He was an intern at the Nagasaki Medical College.
As I shifted my eyes to nearby, heaps of corpses came into my view. The tragic state of the wounded was beyond description.
There was a corpse perhaps of an army soldier with a steel canteen around his waist and his upper torso steeped into a water container used for firefighting. Sheltered behind a truck was a woman in a stupor, holding a baby. Amid these surroundings, I single-mindedly looked for my brother.

I would run to each corpse that hinted the same body shape and the approximate age. I was relieved when I turned it around to see its face and discovered that it was not my brother. Then I resumed my search. I repeated the same several tens of times. Around me other people were also searching for their relatives. In eerie silence, I saw a world made solely of the color of burnt earth. A monochromatic, soundless hell ― it was beyond imagination. I learned about my brother's death on the morning of August 14 by a notice put up in the town hall. My wounded brother was carried to an elementary school near Omura City and passed away on August 13. With tears in her eyes, the woman from the Women's National Defense Association who took care of him said, "This student was constantly calling out for his older sister so I asked him about his mother and father. 'Both of them passed away when I was small, but I've got a big sister,' he said."

The location of the exposure to the bombing: Funatsu-machi, Nagasaki City, 2.6 km from the hypocenter.
My brother, Nobuchika: Exposed to the bombing and transported, died on August 14, 1945 in the neighborhood of Tokitsu.