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Messages from Nagasaki

Japanese version

Michiyo Kojima (female)
8 years old at the time / current resident of Nagasaki

Photographer: Eiichi Matsumoto.
The scenes of the A-bombed city are introduced here. The photographs are not directly connected with the messages.
I pray that the people who died because of the atomic bomb and the war rest in peace. Thanks to the sacrifices they made, our family and our relatives are healthy today.

On the morning of August 9, I heard a voice saying "good morning" so I went outside and saw off the two girls from next door, waving "goodbye" to them as they left. I went straight back inside and ate breakfast. The girls were going to the weapons factory in Takenokubo. I was eight years old at the time and they must have been around sixteen or seventeen years old. I lived with my aunt and my grandmother in a tenement house with six flats on a hill located in Ohurahinode-machi Ni-choume. The girl next door was called Reiko Ogawa, she taught me knitting, told me many stories, and often took care of me. She was like a real sister to me.

Every time I went in and out of the neighborhood air raid shelter on the hill, I would look up at the explosive sky watching the low-flying planes soaring by glistening and reflecting against the sun. I thought it was so beautiful. About nine o'clock in the morning I went out of the air raid shelter when it was all clear and went home. My aunt was preparing lunch for me so I played alone with my favorite doll placing it on the wooden apple box on the veranda above the ditch next to my house. At that very moment, there was a flash of light instantly followed by the tremendous boom of the blast shaking the ground all throwing me aside. It was then that I realized that I was standing in the ditch full of water.

When I looked around me I saw my favorite doll and the apple box soaked in water. I tried to pick them up, but it was useless, they were ruined. I was so sad and wiped the tears from my face, but when I did, I noticed there was blood streaming from my head. Shocked and scared, I crawled up to our house. When I entered the house, I saw that the paper sliding doors had been blown away, there was nothing left. My grandmother came to me with a basin of water and cooled my wounds, and then I lay down for a while.
The vegetables that were cooking on the clay charcoal stove were strewn all over the floor. Grandma picked all the vegetables up, cooked them once more, and then we all ate together.

The leader of the town came running up the steps shouting through his megaphone that an atomic bomb had struck Uragami. After a short while, people began to gather and talk outside. A couple of days later five or six people and two relatives of the family next got together and went to visit the weapons factory. By chance, while searching amongst the dead bodies, they found a young girl. When they picked her up they read the name card on her chest: it read Reiko Ogawa. Her family said that they were glad that they found her. About ten days later, the other girl from next door was brought to our neighborhood by five or six men.
Everybody, including me, gathered around her. I was so surprised by her appearance that I was shaking. Her body was covered with fragments of glass from head to toe, her hair burned to a crisp, and her clothes were all torn and tattered. She looked in so much pain that I frantically tried to pull one of the shards of glass from her waist, but it did not budge an inch. I felt so sorry for her. She was aimlessly mumbling to herself almost as if she were in another world. About three moths later, she died. War should never happen.
(April 2005).

When we were little, many items were rationed or done by lottery. However, since we rarely won anything, unless we were lucky, we took great care of anything we could get that was available, such as sportswear, sneakers, socks, pencils, and notebooks.
Nowadays, people do not seem to value things such as food or possessions, and they continually waste and throw things away. I worry about the way today's society lives, and how they feel that having possessions is a natural part of life.