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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Zenichi Kido (male)
'Chokubaku'  3.2 km from the hypocenter / 17 years old at the time / current resident of Fukuoka

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
Since 1994 [Heisei 6] I have been presenting a lecture series titled "The experiences of Hibaku Nagasaki: Messages for Peace" at elementary and junior high schools in my district. I have talked to about eight thousand people, including people at senior citizen clubs and religious groups. At nine elementary schools I planted cuttings from the camphor trees that survived at the Nagasaki Sanno Shrine. My friend sent them to me as a symbol of peace. This event was reported numerous times in local newspapers and on NHK in Fukuoka. I am determined to continue to tell people about my hibaku experiences for the rest of my life.

Public Announcement 1997 [Heisei 9], Volume 8

It has been 52 years since the war ended, but please don't say that the war is over. There are many people who still have tears when they recall what happened. I'd like to let young people know what kind of suffering people went through. Our experiences should not fade away.

My Hibaku Experiences -- in commemoration of hibaku 50th anniversary

On August 9 1995 [Heisei 7], I visited the Sanno Shrine -- with the well-known one-legged torii (arch) -- to pray there for the first time in 50 years. Whenever we had an air raid, I used to run to the Sanno Shrine. Two camphor trees were still growing strong, just like they were a long time ago. But I did find some burn marks on one side of the trunk, probably caused by a gush of heat.

At 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945 [Showa 20] which was just 50 years ago, I was exposed to the A-bomb at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard, which was 3.2 km [about 2 miles] from the hypocenter. I was only seventeen years old.

Before my exposure to the A-bomb, I experienced an attack of oil incendiary bombs in the middle of the night. Whenever I saw massive drops of burning oil fall around Mt. Inasa, which was far away from my home, it looked as if the oil could land on our house sooner or later. Because that air raid was my first experience, I spent that night so afraid I didn't sleep a minute in our air raid shelter. I watched the search light and listened to the anti-aircraft guns firing.

The August 1, 1945 [Showa 20] attack on the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard was unforgettable. Around that time a secret factory near the shipyard's practice field was building special submarines and special wooden attack vessels coded "Maru-yon," which were loaded with explosives at the tip of the bow. Their purpose was to ram into enemy ships. The goal of the enemy's attack seemed to be to destroy our secret factory, but in fact, the bombs were dropped near the underground air raid shelter where tens of people were buried alive and eventually died. At that time, bombs were dropped on my air raid shelter, but I was miraculously safe. I didn't feel alive, listening to the anti-aircraft noises firing at the enemy's planes, the noises of the enemy aircraft and explosions of bombs. When I went outside after the all-clear sounded, I found a big hole in the ground near the air raid shelter's entrance and many soldiers' dead bodies broken in pieces and scattered all over the place.

After the August 1st attack, my friend told me that the enemy airplane dropped off their propaganda leaflets promoting Japan's surrender. I remember the contents of the leaflet: "We will drop a new bomb on Nagasaki on August 8. (In my leaflet, no date was written.) The power of these bombs is equal to the amount of bombs carried by 2,000 B-29 planes. If you don't believe it, look at what happened in Hiroshima. Nagasaki citizens, evacuate from the city immediately." However, since the enemy didn't drop the bombs on August 8, I thought that it was a fake leaflet.

But then "Pika Don!" (Pika is a brilliant flash of light and Don is the sound of a loud explosion.) On August 9, 11:02 a.m. (I happened to be looking at my watch. which read 11:01 a.m.) I clearly saw "Pika" -- a shiny light 100 meters [about 110 yards] away from my factory's practice field. I was hit by an incredibly bright light, which looked like a big chunk of lightning, followed by a sudden gust of hot wind. For a moment I wondered what on earth had happened. I remember that I shouted with a loud voice, saying, "Lie down!" but I became unconscious after that and didn't hear the explosive "Don."

Seconds later I was awakened by people making noise, of stepping on broken glass on the ground while running into the air raid shelter. I was saved again. That was the third time I was saved.

The air raid shelter was in chaos with 200-300 people who were burned, injured, and bloody. Then, six hours later I went outside with big fear, and saw a large sea of fire covering the entire area on the other side of Nagasaki Port (from Nagasaki Station to the prefectural capitol building area) and heavy black smoke climbing up to the sky. Up above I saw the mushroom-shaped atomic cloud floating in the sky.

On the way home, I came across some sudden rain falling lightly from the dark sky. I don't remember whether the rain was white or black. (I was frightened when I later learned that it was black radioactive atomic rain.)