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"Grandpa! Your leg! What happened?"


Opening a barbershop in Nagasaki


When Takae was 10 months old, my parents suggested that I come back to Nagasaki. I was reluctant. However, when my parents-in-law advised me to do the same, I decided to move back to Nagasaki. I was surprised at the change. The vegetable field on which we lived was gone. Gone was the loquat tree on which I had been hit by the atomic bomb. The land was either prepared for housing or already covered up with houses. Nagasaki was completely changed. Urakami, including near the hypocenter, was totally reconstructed. It was hard to find any ruins of the atomic bomb.

I thought about staying with my parents for a while. However, my wife would not feel very comfortable living with my parents. Therefore, we chose to stay with her parents.

Within a week, my father told me to go to the Nishimachi area to see a house he had rented for me to open a barbershop. It was located in a street right down the slope from my parents'. My father repeated, "You don't have enough money now." When a barber opens a shop, he usually has to work for another barber long enough to have some loyal customers, especially when he worked in a far-away place. My father would not understand that if I had explained it. After 25 days, the shop "Barber Komine" opened. I was satisfied with the small shop with only two chairs. Reporting to the public health center, Barber Komine officially started business. I felt a little uneasy about my parents' protection, but I appreciated their help. I said to myself that it would be the first step toward real independence and self-support.

In order to make both ends meet, I delivered newspapers and did some other odd jobs. One day, the wife of a shop manager in the neighborhood asked me to get the keys of her house, because she had left them inside when she came out. I climbed up the telephone pole right next to her house and went in through the window. Unfortunately, I made a terrible noise when my foot touched chinaware on the drainboard. The next morning, a woman who lived next door to her said, "Komine-san, you stepped on some bowls yesterday, didn't you? I heard my neighbor breaking them. She said the bowls were too dirty after your foot touched them." I was full of anger and started for that house with retaliation in mind. However, the neighbor grabbed my arms tightly and said, "Hold! Hold on! You are running a business on this street!" She was right. I came back to myself. The wicked woman's husband was one of my customers. How long would it take before I could really be free from any influence of the atomic bomb? I would have to endure it as long as I lived.

Those days, Takae was starting to toddle and babble. She spoke some words I did not understand. It was so nice to watch her motions, especially when I was tired or after something uncomfortable. How I hoped she would keep growing without troubles.

In the first year, my business did not make enough profit. I noticed that the location was not very good: the shop was on the top of a slope. Then I found a house under construction, at about 300 meters away, down the slope from my shop. I talked to the owner. He had been an executive of "Nagasaki City Kokusai Bunka Kaikan," Nagasaki City's peace organization. He agreed to rent it to me. My father also agreed, saying, "It doesn't matter to me, if you get the budget by yourself." I was able to get a loan from a governmental housing loan system. I became busier than before and I was able to hire a trainee.

Our second daughter Satomi was born in 1970. We were all surprised that she weighed as much as 4280 grams. I tried to comfort my wife after the hard labor. She just said, "It was hard" and fell asleep. Takae was then 3 years old. With my wife and two children, I was living a full life.