The text area starts here.

  • Before reading this site

Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Takashi Toutsu (male)
'Kyugo hibaku'  / 19 years old at the time / current resident of Hyogo

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I saw the flash and bomb blast in Nagasaki.

I left my hometown of Akashi, filled with smoke and the acrid smell of the aerial bombing, on my way to serve in the war. Public transportation had been paralyzed by the bombing the previous night. I put on my red sash and hurried westward, pedaling on my battered bicycle. It happened on the morning of July 7, 1945.
Known in the city of Himeji as "Kameyama Gobo," the famous Hontoku-ji Temple had become an army barracks. We were provided with guns of inferior quality, canteens and dishes made of bamboo. Things were so bad that our strong feelings of serving the war effort had deteriorated, even after having promised to "give our pitiful selves to the sacred war". I left Himeji, changed to the Hakubi Line and then to the Sanin Line to finally arrive in Nagasaki. I did this to detour around the atomic bombed city of Hiroshima. The military train traveled on with its shutters closed, even in the heat of midsummer. I moved into my temporary barracks at Kikitsu Elementary School on the afternoon of August 8. The next morning, just as I saw a parachute drop toward Tachibana Bay, my eyes were blinded by an intense flash. It was an extremely intense flash, as if a piece of the sun had fallen. My body was pushed by the pulsating air surrounding me. I crouched down and looked up to see a black cloud careen wildly through the sky.

We were called to duty. With our helmets pulled down as far as we could, we carried our tools onto a train that soon came to a sudden stop. The rails were bent. The bodies of the section crew were lying about. There were corpses inside the burned out train, one lying on top of the other. The rice fields were burned. A farmer and a cow whose eyes had popped out lay fallen on top of each other. The trees on the surrounding mountains were on fire. The horror only got worse as we approached the center of the city. The huge steel pillar from the shipyard at Urakami that housed the headquarters of the rescue division, had melted and collapsed. Gusts of wind set fire to blackened electric poles. A blackened survivor who had tripped over a fallen electric pole scooped up muddy water. As I rushed to hand over my bamboo canteen, he looked at me vacantly and breathed his last.

On a street corner that had been burned completely by the flash was a young woman, whose white skin, battered by the blast, still gave off the feeling of the warmth of life. A baby wailed on his mother's open womb, blood trickled down from another poor soul who was speared by a branch on the tree-lined boulevard, and numerous bodies lined up in the red-stained Urakami River, their heads stuck in the river bottom and their feet sticking up like trees. A young man's testicles were swollen to the size of cannonballs. After hearing the roar of the blast, a woman whose eardrums had been torn by the blast watched this strange hell without sound, and then passed away. A lunchbox with white rice lay on the ground. It must have belonged to someone commuting from the countryside. New recruits never got white rice; we got nothing but onions and kabocha [pumpkin], day in and day out, and we were still starving. Nobody picked up the wallets. We cremated the bodies of the dead while staving off our hunger by eating mikan [tangerines] that burst and flew out of the factory one after the other.

We called it the parachute bomb or new type of bomb and we were afraid. But there is no way to describe our fear and sense of danger. It was an incredibly intense shock. Burials for the injured victims whose burns had melted them continued day after day, never ending. We had no way of knowing the effects that residual radiation would have on future generations, but we did think the bombing was a crime against humanity. I found out on August 18, 1945 that we had lost the war. (Journal entry, April 29, 2005)