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For Those Who Pray for Peace
Time Spent in a Daze

Fusako Kitagawa (maiden name, Sakuka)
52nd Graduating Class of Hiroshima Jogakuin Hight School before the war
Residing in Odawara City, Kanagawa prefecture

 We would have been on summer break the day the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, but back in wartime there were no breaks. Day in and day out, students were taken into the munitions factories to stand in front of lathes on the production line to make parts for guns.

 "August 6 happened to be a day we actually attended school instead of going to the factory. At 8:15 a.m. all of the students were gathered in the auditorium for the morning assembly. That's when the "Pika-Don" was dropped. All of us were trapped under the Assembly Hall. When I came to, I noticed that my mouth was filled with dust. I heard some moans. I saw the sky through the cracks of the rubble and crawled out. But my friends, who were pinned under a large beam, couldn't escape. I pulled their arms to no avail. Then the fire started. Soldiers came and told us to flee. They promised to save our friends. I cried and left my friends behind and ran to Sentei Garden (Shukkeien). Then I headed to the river behind the garden. All the bridges across the river had collapsed so I swam across the river and escaped to a large open field."

 This was a story recounted by my classmate, who died a few years ago.
 I was supposed to have been attending the morning assembly with her if it hadn't been for the fact that I had been sick for a few days. I was living in the dorm at the time, but due to my illness the school doctor had given me a note and sent me home for a week. The "Pika-Don" was dropped while I was resting at home. The newspaper reported that it would be decades before plants would grow on Hiroshima's soil again. I was in shock. There was no way to get in touch with anybody. There was nothing I could do and I spent the next few days in a daze.

 The plot of land at Mt.Ushita, which is now the college campus grounds, used to be the school farm. After the war in April of 1946, Jogakuin started class in the sheds on the plot at Mt.Ushita. The crude sheds were so small that the students from college and high school took classes in shifts every other day. The high school dorm students moved with faculty and college students into small housing called Ushita Sanso. We cooked our own meals on stoves in the hallway. Food didn't come by easily. On our days off we went to the nearby farms to ask for potatoes and such. Ushita-sanso stood in the woods and, unlike today, the path from the campus was a lonely, winding trail. I was terrified of walking there alone.

 The college campus today is remarkable. I reflect on how we graduated without actually studying much, because we had to work to survive. There is an indescribable strong bond between the classmates who are still alive. Perhaps the hardship of the war brought us closer together.

… 77 years old