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For Those Who Pray for Peace
Inside of the Podium, Blown by the Blast
- Kimiko Nakamura (maiden name, Nabeta)
5th Graduating Class of Hiroshima Jogakuin High School
Residing in Nishi-ku, Hiroshima City
The morning of August 6, the siren indicating the end of the air raid warning sounded, and I went to Oshiba Grade School. We, the fifth grade students, were on the second floor of the new school building. I was standing alone, holding a bucket and rag, when I heard the roar of a B-29 out of the window. When I looked up at the sky, a bright flash pierced my eyes. I ran out of the classroom towards the stairs. There was a large boom, and I fell to the floor of the hallway, covering my eyes and ears. When I came to my senses, I was for some reason crouched inside of the class podium. I imagine the podium was blown out to the hallway by the blast, and somehow I fit right into it. But having no recollection at the time, I believed that God had placed it over me. I waited for the dust to settle and took one step. A sharp piece of glass pierced the bottom of my foot. I can still clearly recall the feeling of glass entering my skin.
I ran ferociously out to the schoolyard. I saw my crying classmates, teachers, and soldiers (they were living in the old school building). The students who suffered serious injuries were put on boards and carried away. Strangely, I could not cry. I had some light injuries on my head (even now, my left eye, teeth, cheek, leg and pinky finger are distorted slightly. I have been hard of hearing since then and also not very smart.)
We took shelter in a bamboo forest when the black rain fell. We came to a gathering spot in Gion. I saw countless numbers of people whose skin hung from their fingertips and clothes were torn to shreds. They all walked in a line as if it were a parade of the dead. I met my classmate's father from Mitaki and he led me along the mountain range and took me home. It was evening when I arrived.
My brother, a first grader, was at the Nakahara meeting hall in Mitaki-cho and was cut all over his body by shattered glass. As if that wasn't bad enough, he stood in the black rain to wash off his body (which is probably why his health suffered in his twenties all the way to his death at 49). My family used to live in Zaimoku-cho, and if we hadn't moved to Mitaki, due to having our home dismantled, we probably would have all been dead. My youngest brother, who was 2 years old, suffered burns on his head and throat. At the time of the blast, he was deep in the valley but was in an area that got lots of sun. He died on September 2. My father couldn't move for a year due to the burns he suffered on over half of his body. It was my job to pick off the maggots that grew in his wounds. On fine days I was busy going into the mountain to gather some kindling or grass (to feed our rabbits and goats, as well as ourselves). I don't remember exactly when school started again.
My home was crowded from the day of the bombing with strangers, acquaintances, and relatives. It was as if we were hosting a refugee camp. Even a horse ran to our house and died on arrival. Despite his burns and having gone into the city to search for people, my father had been traumatized and we were unable to leave our house for a while. We watched the sea of fire for three days and three nights from the mountains of Mitaki. I remember going to Yokogawa Station to get some ration of rice balls and yomogi (mugwort)-flavored mochi.
I felt young until 60, started feeling my age at around 65, and at 70 began to wonder if death was near. I received an inquiry from RCC (radio station) for the approaching 60th anniversary of the atomic bomb, and I have been helping them find the bomb survivors from the Oshiba Grade School. I agreed to being recorded for the video "The Stories of the A-bomb Survivors" (created by Hiroshima Peace and Culture Center Foundation) in March of 2002. As it said in the interview published in the Chugoku Newspaper, I have been troubled with survivor's guilt since a young age and didn't really want to recall and recreate the picture of hell through my storytelling. When I was reaching 20 and celebrating my coming of age and getting ready for marriage, I was told to keep it a secret that I was an A-bomb survivor. Although we cannot say for sure, it is possible that my children's health suffered because I had been in the bombing. I do not blame my husband's parents for objecting to our marriage.
I believe that it is possible that the children of survivors suffer psychologically and mentally. The effects the mother has on the unborn baby, as well as what we pass on through genetics, is still very mysterious. I have been studying the human body for over 30 years and know that there are many unknowns in the medical field and things that cannot be detected by X-rays and tests.
While we spend our days and years over foolish wars, our planet is gradually headed towards destruction. I believe we all feel a sense of urgency. The Atomic bomb, that has been nicknamed "Pika-Don " has many different effects on people's bodies depending on how people receive and understand it. For me, the "Pika" had a white-gold color. But later, when I had flash-backs during an anniversary of the bomb, the "Pika" came to me in red, and then a second time it was a pitch-black "Don." These flashbacks were different from the actual experience, for I had lost consciousness at "Don" and regained consciousness some time later in the darkness.
When I entered Hiroshima Jogakuin Junior High School, I met two people from the Nakajima Grade School that I had attended before I transferred to Oshiba Grade School. One student said they had no recollection of the bombing, and we graduated before I ever got a chance to speak to the other student. If they are alive today, they may feel like speaking of their past. Today I value the time I have left and am living life looking for ways that I can be of service so that I will not have any regrets.
(I kept the descriptions of the bomb experience simple since I was unable to give a testimonial without becoming too emotional.)
…71 years old