Hiroshima, August 6, 1945
On August 6, 1945, I was exposed to the atomic bomb at just one kilometer away from ground zero in Hiroshima.
Recovering consciousness, I found myself confined in a dark, narrow gap in the ruins of our timber house, which had collapsed. Fortunately, I was able to get out. I have never forgotten the scene I saw upon climbing out. All the houses as far as I could see were flattened to the ground.The sky was dim with smoke as if it were after sunset. Fire was breaking out two to three hundred meters ahead of me; all the houses had been built of wood. I thought that the city had been destroyed at once by a terribly large bomb.
Exposed to the blast and trapped under the ruins of our house were my 12 year-old brother, Hideo, and my mother who had been hanging washing out in the yard with my little sister, Masako, who was 5 years old. I was 14 at the time. My father had left Hiroshima on business early that morning. With much difficulty, I finally succeeded in rescuing my family from under the collapsed building. We fled from the house, driven away by the approaching fire. Blasts of intolerably hot wind blew continuously.
We jumped into a reservoir of stagnant water, which had been set up for the purpose of extinguishing fires during air raids, in order to cool our bodies. As soon as we came out from the water, out clothes were dried instantly by the intense heat caused by the fires. We had to jump into the water so often that dirty water entered our mouths and caused us to vomit. Surrounding fires forced us to stay in the air raid evacuation zone for several hours.
In Hiroshima many junior high school children who had been mobilised to demolish houses to create fire barriers, were killed by the atomic bomb. Shortly before the bomb fell, the 'all clear' siren had been sounded and people had come out of the shelters. The aircraft carrying the bomb had flown over the city and then gone away, leading those responsible for the air-raid sirens to think it had retreated. Only after the 'all clear' had sounded did it return. We have wondered whether this was deliberate US policy to get people out from shelters so that the effects of the atomic bomb could be tested: something the US military authorities, when asked, have neither confirmed or denied.
Toward evening, the fires and the wind nearly ceased. A rescue truck came by and picked us up. Several people were sitting in the truck. Some were almost naked and badly burned. The skin on their arms was peeling off and hanging down from their hands. More refugess were jammed onto the truck so tightly that they cried in pain when their peeling skin touched the skin of others.
The drawings are published in Wasurerarenal Anohio--The Day Never to be Forgotten, A collection of testimonies and pictures by sufferers of the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagaski, published by the Kanagawa Atom Bomb Sufferers Association.
Work first appeared at: http://www.douaiabbey.org.uk/hiroshima.htm.