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For Those Who Pray for Peace
At the Platform in Minami Danbara

Keiko Kanaya (maiden name, Shinohara)
2nd Graduating Class of Hiroshima Jogakuin College of Clothing Design
Residing in Higashi-ku, Hiroshima City

 I still remember, quite vividly, August 6 of 60 years ago. It was such a painful experience that I hardly ever spoke of it until now. Today I shall recount this heartbreaking event and I pray that this record shall contribute to world peace.
 I was born to a family of sake brewers in the Toyoura area of Yamaguchi prefecture. During the war I attended the Chofu Middle School for women. Most students were forced to join the Student Mobilization Workforce, and I was assigned to work at the Chofu Factory of Kobe Steel Works. Our graduation ceremony in March was interrupted by an air raid warning and resumed in the afternoon. I was looking forward to moving to Hiroshima and attending Jogakuin College, while I stayed with my uncle on my mother's side of the family. Much to my disappointment, my entrance to college was delayed due to the escalation of the war, and we were forced to continue working at our assigned workplace.

 The entrance ceremony was held on July 30. From the following day on, we studied under Ms. Shizue Matsubara. The first lesson was on drawing patterns for the uniforms we were to wear at the Toyo Kogyo (currently, Mazda). I didn't have any materials to make my uniform with and called my mother at home. My mother was kind enough to buy a train ticket to bring me my grandfather's black formal kimono, along with some rice. I took the black formal kimono to school to get Ms. Matsubara's approval. Our request to use the kimono was granted, and both my mother and I were relieved.

 After the morning chapel on August 5, the school held a welcome party for us in the training hall at Mt. Ushita. The training hall was at the end of the rocky trail up the hill. The freshmen sat in a circle in the great hall, and we introduced ourselves to each other. We ate some sweets and played games. This is one of my fondest memories. After I returned home from the party, the air raid siren sounded through the night and I hardly slept a wink. The next morning I was running late from the lack of sleep and an upset stomach, and so I missed the usual train.

 My uncle's house was in Danbara Yamasaki-cho, so I usually took the Ujina rail line from Minami Danbara Station. I waited at the station for the next train because I didn't want to miss school that day. It was important to attend the organizing event held in preparation to leave for the Mobilization Workforce at Toyo Kogyo. From the platform I heard a plane fly over my head, and I looked up to see if it was an enemy plane or a plane from the Japanese Air Force. At that moment, there was a flash, and I was blown off the platform by a violent explosion. I lay next to the platform and watched the house across the street instantly go up in flames. Then it got dark and I thought there must have been a bomb dropped nearby. I rushed back to my uncle's house.

 My mother, who was still staying there, was quite battered from the rubble that collapsed over her. But despite the injuries, she was safe. My brother, who was attending Hiroshima School of Industrial Brewery, came home to our uncle's with another friend from our hometown. My mother felt it was unsafe to stay and gathered all the food and belongings the four of us could carry.

 We headed west towards the back of Mt.Hiji with our rice crackers and canteens. Taking an indication from the injured walking towards Mukainada, we headed away from the city center. On the riverbank near Miyuki Bridge were many heavily wounded people. The dying asked in agony for "Water.Wat......" Their voices still pierce my ears to this day.
 Downstream, we found a boat, taking people across the river and so we went on board. Once on the other side, we walked further, took another boat, and arrived at the riverbanks in Koi. The sun was setting. The highway along the beach was filled with cars and people roaming about. When I looked back, the sky over Hiroshima to the east was bright red and gave off an eerie glow. By the time we arrived at Itsukaichi Station, it was around 10:30 at night. We waited for the midnight commuter train to Shimonoseki. We boarded and arrived at Ozuki Station around 6th in the morning. This is where I heard that the bomb dropped over Hiroshima was a new type of bomb.

 Finally at home, my grandmother looked at my burns and treated them with persimmon tannin. She told me not to peel the skin before it healed on its own. My sizzled hair gradually smoothed out over time.
 Four days later, we heard the news that there was a train leaving for Hiroshima from Ozuki Station. My brother, his friend, and I took the train and saw that the city had been changed into a burned field. The only structures remaining were frames of taller buildings here and there. It was a hideous sight. We arrived at the platform of Hiroshima Station, which had also been reduced to just its exterior structure. We walked to Danbara. Many dead bodies floated in the river by the Taisho Bridge, and we were reminded of the scale of the catastrophe.
 My uncle's family moved to my mother's hometown near Tokuyama city. Our neighbor spoke about the truckloads of dead bodies that were carried nightly to the nearby middle school to be cremated. Her husband was missing, and she was going in search of him from one refugee camp to another.

 In mid-September, after hearing that school was reopening, I returned to Hiroshima. We used the school buildings of Ushita Grade School in the afternoon. We took turns with the middle school, using the classrooms every other day. They built a shed with a tin roof on Mt. Ushita. It was a crude building without windowpanes. We went to the Naval Academy in Etajima Island to receive some desks and chairs. I remember being excited about studying at the desks used by Navy Officers.

 By and by, the campus at Mt. Ushita improved. New buildings were built for the colleges and university. A memorial was constructed for the A-bomb victims. I attend the memorial ceremony every year on August 6. One year during the ceremony I heard from a teacher that during reconstruction, they found bones of 17 people neatly preserved under the old school building. A certain surviving family member of my classmate told me of how they still keep the drawings we made in school that week.

 I heard the bomb was dropped the moment the students stood up after chapel service in the Assembly Hall. Those who were near the exits and windows escaped to Sentei Garden (Shukkeien) until the fire chased them away. My classmates came to the river behind Sentei Garden and took a boat across. Those who were deep inside the Assembly Hall were crushed under the fallen roof.

 For years I had been concerned about my missing friend, Ms. Fumie Taniguchi, whom I had sat next to in class. When the memorial was moved from Mt. Ushita to the campus on Kami-nobori-cho, I was informed that names of the victims were going to be engraved, and I wrote a letter of inquiry to the school. They sent me the contact information for the surviving family members, and I met with Ms. Fumie's brother. He showed me her picture, and I remembered her well. He told me that after the bomb was dropped, her mother and another brother had searched many refugee camps in Hiroshima. Although the Taniguchi family's four sons returned safely from the battlegrounds abroad, their only daughter, who remained in Japan, had died.

 I don't remember my classmates' names or faces. We had been studying together for a mere four to five days. I reflect on the bitterness of fate that took the lives of those students who came from afar to attend class at Jogakuin. Many of the survivors who had returned to school had dropped out for one reason or another. There were only a handful of students who graduated along with me after the bombing. I myself would probably not be here today, had I made it to school at the usual time.

 I pray for the souls of the deceased and thank God for my life today. We cannot allow this tragedy to be repeated.
 I shall continue to attend the peace memorial ceremonies.

… 76 years old