The text area starts here.

  • Before reading this site

Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Yaeko Nakayama  (female)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 12 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.
I lived at 113, Takenokubo-machi, Nagasaki, and I was in the sixth grade at Shiroyama National Elementary School when I was exposed to the A-bomb.
August 9th was a school day at Shiroyama National Elementary School.
My home was located across the Urakami River from the Mitsubishi Arms Factory Morimachi Plant. On the early morning of the 9th, due to the daily massive air raids, I left Takenokubo-machi with five family members; my two elder sisters, a younger brother, a younger sister and my nephew, to move to Oura Izumo-machi (present: Izumo-machi 1-chome) where my aunt lived. I believe that all of us got on the train; however, I lost sight of my eldest sister and never saw her again. Probably she is buried in one of the graves for the unknown.

After downloading our luggage, as we were playing with our cousins in the alley and were looking up at the sky (it was a really bright blue sky), we saw an airplane flying over and dropping three or four things that looked like matchboxes. The moment I pointed at them, I heard a tremendous sound "ka-boom" and my younger brother and I, even though we were holding hands, were blown over to the height of the room by the bomb blast. (Translator's note:The floors in the interior of a Japanese house are built higher than the vestibule just inside the front door.) I heard the sounds of windows breaking and I can't remember how we dashed into the house and got into our futon. The whole town of Nagasaki kept burning for about three days.

(Now I think about that time, we might have been the only persons who were looking up at the sky and watching the airplane.)

My mother was staying at Takenokubo-machi, and I didn't know her situation until I met her at Oura Izumo-machi on the 12th.
My father was exposed to the A-bomb around the Seibu Gas Factory: he hid himself under a two-wheeled cart. He came to Oura Izumo-machi drawing the cart filled with luggage, although he had wounds which looked like blisters on his face, neck, hands and other parts.

On around the 11th or the 12th, my younger brother, sister and I went to Takanokubo-machi in order to look for our mother. We could go close to Nagasaki Station, but we couldn't walk farther because the ground was too hot to walk on, so we came back to Oura Izumo-machi. My father also went to Takenokubo-machi looking for our mother everyday, but he couldn't find her. One day, on his way back to Oura Izumo-machi, he heard a voice calling out to him. He knew the voice was our mother's. I believe he took her hand and led her back to the air raid shelter at Oura Izumo-machi.

All of us spent time together with Mother from the afternoon of the 12th in the air raid shelter. However, there weren't any doctors around. She never ate any food and just drank water. There were so many pimples on her body and her nose was stuffed up although we removed her mucus many times. There were countless wounds on her body. Her cotton underwear and work pants were in tatters. She had strapped a passbook for rice rationing, cash and other important things on her waist, and said that she couldn't die until she handed them to us. (I remember that she was a strong person.)

She was lying in the air raid shelter and was talking in her delirium. She would say, "A soldier gave me rice balls.' and "He gave me water." She talked a lot about water. We all tried to take care of her but she died on the 14th. Many maggots had started to come out of her body around two days before she died.

There used to be fields where Umegasaki Junior High School is presently located, so my father and second eldest sister went there to cremate Mother with wooden boards. The rest of us were too young and couldn't go with them for the cremation. Mother had been a very cheerful and healthy person, so her bones were very big.

This was the situation at that time.
March 10, 2010 (Heisei 22)

Although 65 years have passed, I can't stop my eyes from watering when I think about that time and write this article. Still there are tragic wars and brutal episodes all around the world.

I think it is very important to negotiate among nations, peoples, and to give love and consideration to other countries and their citizens. I grew up in a time of war. We lived with only the barest necessities and slept in the clothes we wore everyday. We couldn't turn on lights because of the restrictions. Even when we could turn on lights, we had to hide them under black cloth. Mother always had a row with the head of the community league saying that there was no meaning in practicing with bamboo spears while bombs were dropping from the sky. She said, " We should not be doing things like this at a time like this."
The 9th was a school day at Shiroyama National Elementary School. I couldn't attend school due to our family's move. All my friends who went to the school that day died victims of the A-bomb.

I visit the Cemetery for the Unknown Dead in Nagasaki and the Memorial Tower in Shiroyama Elementary School every year to pray. Fortunately, I'm healthy at present. I have been practicing kendo for my health for more than 30 years. And I keep talking to small children about the importance of human life and the misery of war.
March 10, 2010 (Heisei 22)