The text area starts here.

  • Before reading this site

Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Masahiro Ito (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 10 years old at the time / current resident of Tokyo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I have enclosed a copy of an article on my experiences which I wrote for a collection of memoirs, published by the Hachioji Hibakusha Society (aka Hachi-Roku-Kyu Kai) in 2005.

Things I saw that day

Experiences of a ten-year-old boy

It was August 9, 1945. I lived in Tayui (which in the present day has been incorporated into the city of Isahaya), Kitatakaki District, Nagasaki Prefecture.

I was in the fifth grade at Tayui National Elementary School. That day was the middle of summer vacation.

I was born and raised in Nagasaki, but in the spring of 1945 my family had been evacuated to Tayui, and I had been living there since then with my mother, her sister whom I called "grandma," and my two younger brothers. Our house was on the coast of Chijiwa Bay, and in front of a street which was connected to a path with stone walls alongside it, which led to a beach where waves lapped the sand. The breakwater extended on the righthand side, so my brothers and I often swam between the breakwater and the beach. The sea water was clear and beautiful.

It was just before noon on August 9. My mother was talking with her guests on the veranda, I was reading a book nearby, and my brother (who was in first grade at National Elementary School) was playing on the seashore. Then he dashed back home, completely naked, carrying his underwear in his hand.  "Something flashed over there!" he shouted, and my mother replied , "Oh, really? I wonder what it was?" Just then we were assaulted by a tremendous, shocking sound and vibration. Having been instructed in regular drills for bombing, I instinctively crouched down and covered my mouth and ears with my hands.

The shock probably lasted for two or three seconds. My house wasn't damaged, but the windows of the post office nearby were broken. I couldn't understand what had happened. The grown-ups were saying things like"It might have been a bomb," and "That was far more powerful than a one-ton bomb. It must have been at least ten tons," and so forth. It is an 18-kilometer journey between Nagasaki and Tayui, but slightly less than ten kilometers as the crow flies. That means it was about 30 seconds from my brother's sighting of the flash to when the sound reached us. It was only later that I understood the relationship between the flash my brother had seen and the vibration I'd felt 30 seconds later.

A cloud was developing upwards in the western sky. It was a mushroom cloud. I thought a pink flash in that pure white cloud looked particularly beautiful. Soon, however, the cloud covered over the entire sky, and through it the sun appeared small and red and unreliable. Grandma feared that "the sun would come falling down." We escaped into a culvert that had been dug along the breakwater which could function as an air-raid shelter in an emergency.

After a while, ash began raining down. Along with the ash, a variety of paper items were also falling. Among these things were rice-ration books. On those paper documents, I could find such place names as "Komaba-machi, Nagasaki," "Matsuyama-machi," "Shiroyama-machi," and so forth, so I realized that the whole of Nagasaki had been bombed.