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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Tokio Matsuo (male)
'Nyushi hibaku'  / 15 years old at the time / current resident of Osaka

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
On August 9 in 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped, I was leading a horse cart full of household goods to be moved and had a direct nuclear hit in a town on the seashore. I still remember the situation at that time. There was a lot of coming and going in the seaside town and the streets were busy. Some time had passed after the air-raid warning became an air-defense warning. Then, a glint of light flashed, powerful enough to make my eyes swim, immediately followed by a moment of terrific explosive sounds and a powerful blast. I didn't have a clue what it was all about.

The horse was so startled by the flashes, blasts, and explosive sounds that it reared up on its hind legs and became wild. I had to gentle the frightened, unruly animal. It was dim in the area and visibility was very poor. Blown-off roof tiles, shoji screens and shutters lay scattered about the roads. The people who had been passing by a few minutes before had disappeared altogether, which I still think strange even today.

I thought it dangerous to stay there and so took refuge with my acquaintance in Daionji Kago-machi. When I looked in the direction of Urakami, I was astounded by the fierce flames. Columns of black smoke were swirling into the sky, and the sun looked round and orange amid the clouds. I could only stare speechlessly at the unimaginable sight. Columns of smoke began billowing from Nagasaki Station and then from Kouzen Elementary School and Nagasaki Prefectural Office. Soon after that, red-hot flames shot up with tremendous force. After taking refuge for a short time, I started on my way home, leading the horse and cart. The factory with the board fence in Himi Tunnel was seriously damaged.

On August 11, I went to Urakami Hamaguchi-machi to collect dead bodies as a member of the vigilance corps. When I collected the tragic charred bodies of young and old to cremate the remains at the bottom of the university hospital, I had the idea that I might be seeing hell on earth witnessing such really tragic sights. I believe that we should never have such a tragedy again in the future.

I graduated from the national school in Yagami on March 18, 1944. In the afternoon I led a horse cart full of household goods to be moved from the foot of Yagami Shrine to Enoura. In those days, packhorse men were exempt from commandeering as being engaged in small-scale army transportation. I was 15 years old at the time.