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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Hiroshi Nishioka (male)
'Chokubaku'  3 km from the hypocenter / 13 years old at the time / current resident of Kanagawa

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I entered Nagasaki Middle School in 1944. Last year, a volume of recollections was compiled and published in commemoration of the 60th anniversary.
I contributed a piece on my own experience with the A-bomb, "Before and After the A-bomb," which appeared in Section 4. In it, I wrote about what I thought at the time was a courageous act for a second grader in middle school; my cowardly behavior in the immediate aftermath of the dropping of the A-bomb in Nagasaki, walking through the hypocenter and pushing away the hands of victims begging for water. To this day, I feel as though a fish bone had stuck in my throat.

63rd Class Alumni Association, Nagasaki Middle School, Nagasaki Prefecture, 60th Anniversary Publication in Commemoration of Entering Middle School

"Nagasaki Middle School Remembered"

Section 1 Arakabu, Manyoshu, Kankokugo
We gave the Japanese language teacher the nickname "arakabu" because his face resembled the fish readily caught in the waters near Nagasaki.
The topic of Mr. Arakabu's class that day was the Manyoshu. After interpreting several poems, Mr. Arakabu made a shocking statement. He said that during the period when the Manyoshu was written, the Japanese language had not five vowels as today, but seven or eight vowels.
"What nonsense!" I cried in my mind. Japanese had vowels beyond "a,i,u,e,o?" How could that be? Surely people of the Manyoshu era weren't speaking English or French. There were seven or eight vowels?
According to Mr. Arakabu's explanation, there were two ways in which vowels were connected, a connection between two hard vowels and a connection between two soft vowels. Vowels wrestle each other? No way! Not fully comprehending the lesson, somehow thirty some years have passed.

Sections 2 and 3 are omitted here.

Section 4 Before and After the A-bomb
During my second year in middle school, the war situation became serious. A school factory was set up in the science room, and we were mobilized to use a lathe and make war material. But two classes continued for those who volunteered for military service in the Military Academy or the Naval Academy. I was a student in one of those classes.
On August 9, 1945, several classmates and I were in the medical supply room, which was located next to the faculty meeting room. We wondered why our class wasn't starting as scheduled and went to the faculty room to see what was going on.
11:02 a.m. I saw a flash of light. I felt as though we were engulfed in an orange fire. I fell to the ground as I thought a bomb had dropped on the tennis court behind the school building. A blast of destructive force immediately attacked us. I think it lasted about five seconds. I can't determine exactly how long it lasted as some friends later said they thought the blast lasted much longer. When the blast and the destruction ceased, my friend Matsuyuki Honda, who was lying near me, shouted "It got me!" His hands had been hit by pieces of glass, and his fingers were dangling and covered with blood.

I could hear in the hallway the yelling, "Bomb! Bomb!" I assumed they were students from the dormitory and the school factory as they ran towards the mountain behind the school building.

I knew I had to get away somehow, but I could not leave Honda behind. Another friend and I used our mouths to tear washcloths and used them to stop the bleeding temporarily. The moment we were done tying up the washcloths I was seized by fear, and we literally ran for our lives into a bomb shelter in the mountain behind the school.
It was much later that I learned that it was an atomic bomb that had been dropped.