Mr. Yasujiro Tanaka

Age: 75

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 3.4km


I was three years old at the time of the bombing. I don’t remember much, but I do recall that my surroundings turned blindingly white, like a million camera flashes going off at once.


Then, pitch darkness.


I was buried alive under the house, I’ve been told. When my uncle finally found me and pulled my tiny three-year-old body out from under the debris, I was unconscious. My face was misshapen. He was certain that I was dead.


Thankfully, I survived. But since that day, mysterious scabs began to form all over my body. I lost hearing in my left ear, probably due to the air blast. More than a decade after the bombing, my mother began to notice glass shards growing out of her skin – debris from the day of the bombing, presumably. My younger sister suffers from chronic muscle cramps to this day, on top of kidney issues that has her on dialysis three times a week. “What have I done to the Americans?” she would often say. “Why did they leave me like this?”


I have seen a lot of pain in my long years, but truthfully, I have lived a good life. As a firsthand witness to this atrocity, my only desire is to live a full life, hopefully in a world where people are kind to each other, and to themselves.

Left, translated:


"You are only given

One life

So cherish the present

Cherish today

Be kind to others

Be kind to yourself"

A booklet administered to hibakusha who lived within a specific radius from the hypocenter that qualifies them for subsidized healthcare. However, some hibakusha have failed to receive care for decades because they could not prove their residency.

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Mrs. Michiko Yagi

Age: 78

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 3.3km


I have an aversion to satsuma potatoes. Whenever I see them, I think of my now deceased mother.


After the atomic bomb attack, my mother singlehandedly raised me and my four siblings while teaching full-time at a local high school. We waited everyday for her to return from work and went “shopping" – that is, visiting dilapidated farms and asking for a share of their crop in exchange for my mother’s cherished kimonos. We walked around half-starved for hours and hours, getting turned away from this farmer and that. One day, we found a farm with loads of satsuma potatoes out front. As always, my mother carried a bundle of her beautiful kimonos, folded neatly in a furoshiki wrapping cloth. She presented them to the farmer.


“I’ve got no use for kimonos. We have enough mouths to feed.”


My mother quietly pulled the furoshiki over her kimonos and bowed deeply. “Thank you for your time. I will return at a later date.” My mother always maintained her eloquence and calm disposition.


I was furious. “But they had so many, mama!” My mother was silent. I peered up and saw a look of indescribable sorrow and defeat on her face – a look that I will never forget.

Left, translated:


"The site of the bombing – Matsuyama-machi – is now a pristine park. Back then, however, it was a bustling town where many people lived and worked.


On August 9, 1945, a single atomic bomb detonated 500m above this town, destroying everything underneath it. Homes and families disappeared in a single instance. 


Humans cause war. Thus, only humans can prevent it.


I long for a peaceful society where everyone can live with dignity, and die with dignity.


Peace is not something that we passively wait for. Peace is something that we must seek out and cultivate.


Dear reader – please make Nagasaki the last atomic bomb site.


Michiko Yagi"

Yagi's mother with her teacher colleagues, far right. According to Yagi, her mother was a strong-willed woman "of the Meiji variety" and refused to wear western clothing.

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Yagi, left, before the atomic bomb attack. She is pictured here with her older sister.

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Mr. Yoshiro Yamawaki

Age: 83

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 2.2km


One incident I will never forget is cremating my father. My brothers and I gently laid his blackened, swollen body atop a burnt beam in front of the factory where we found him dead and set him alight. His ankles jutted out awkwardly as the rest of his body was engulfed in flames.


When we returned the next morning to collect his ashes, we discovered that his body had been partially cremated. Only his wrists, ankles, and part of his gut were burnt properly. The rest of his body lay raw and decomposed. I could not bear to see my father like this. “We have to leave him here,” I urged my brothers. Finally, my oldest brother gave in, suggesting that we take a piece of his skull – based on a common practice in Japanese funerals in which family members pass around a tiny piece of the skull with chopsticks after cremation – and leave him be.


As soon as our chopsticks touched the surface, however, the skull cracked open like plaster and his half cremated brain spilled out. My brothers and I screamed and ran away, leaving our father behind. We abandoned him, in the worst state possible.

Left, translated:


"'The atom bomb killed each victim three times,' a college professor once said. Indeed, the nuclear blast has three components – heat, pressure wave, and radiation – and was unprecedented in its ability to kill en masse.


The bomb, which detonated 500m above ground level, created a bolide 200-250m in diameter and implicated tens of thousands of homes and families underneath. The pressure wave created a draft up to 70m/sec – twice that of a typhoon – which instantly destroyed homes 2km in radius from the hypocenter. The radiation continues to affect survivors to this day, who struggle with cancer and other debilitating diseases.


I was 11 years old when the bomb was dropped, 2km from where I lived. In recent years, I have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and have undergone surgery in 2008 and 2010. The atomic bomb has also implicated our children and grandchildren.


One can understand the horrors of nuclear warfare by visiting the atomic bomb museums in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, listening to first-hand accounts of hibakusha survivors, and reading archival documents from that period.


Nuclear weapons should, under no circumstances, be used against humans. However, weapon-owning states such as the US and Russia own stockpiles of well over 15,000 nuclear weapons. Not only that, technological advances have given way to a new kind of bomb that can deliver a blast over 1,000 times that of the Hiroshima bombing.


Weapons of this capacity must be abolished from the earth. However, in our current political climate we struggle to come to a consensus, and have yet to implement the non-proliferation treaty. This is largely because weapon-owning states are boycotting the agreement.


I have resigned to the fact that nuclear weaponry will not be abolished during the lifetime of us first-generation hibakusha survivors. I pray that younger generations will come together to stop the proliferation of these deadly weapons.


April 19, 2017

Yoshiro Yamawaki"

Mr. Inosuke Hayasaki

Age: 86

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 1.1km


The injured were sprawled out over the railroad tracks, scorched and black. When I walked by, they moaned in agony. “Water… water…”


I heard a man in passing announce that giving water to the burn victims would kill them. I was torn. I knew that these people had hours, if not minutes, to live. These burn victims – they were no longer of this world. 


“Water… water…”


I decided to look for a water source. Luckily, I found a futon nearby engulfed in flames. I tore a piece of it off, dipped it in the rice paddy nearby, and wrang it over the burn victims' mouths. There were about 40 of them. I went back and forth, from the rice paddy to the railroad tracks. They drank the muddy water eagerly. Among them was my dear friend Yamada. “Yamada! Yamada!” I exclaimed, giddy to see a familiar face. I placed my hand on his chest. His skin slid right off, exposing his flesh. I was mortified. “Water…” he murmured. I wrang the water over his mouth. Five minutes later, he was dead.


In fact, most of the people I tended to were dead.


I cannot help but think that I killed those burn victims. What if I hadn’t given them water? Would many of them have lived? I think about this everyday.

Left, translated:


"I am very thankful for the opportunity to meet with you and speak with you about world peace and the implications of the atom bomb. I, Hayasaki, have been deeply indebted to the Heiwasuishinkyokai for arranging this meeting, amongst many other things. You have traveled far from the US – how long and arduous your journey must have been. Seventy two years have passed since the bombing – alas, young people of this generation have forgotten the tragedies of war and many pay no mind to the Peace Bell of Nagasaki. Perhaps this is for the better, an indication that the current generation revels in peace. Still, whenever I see people of my own generation join their hands before the Peace Bell, my thoughts go out to them.


May the citizens of Nagasaki never forget the day when 74,000 people were instantaneously turned into dust. Currently, it seems Americans have a stronger desire for peace than us Japanese. During the war, we were told that the greatest honor was to die for our country and be laid to rest at the Yasukuni Shrine. We were told that we should not cry but rejoice when family members died in the war effort. We could not utter a single word of defiance to these cruel and merciless demands; we had no freedoms. In addition, the entire country was starving – not a single treat or needle to be seen at the department store. A young child may beg his mother for a snack but she could do nothing – can you imagine how tormenting that is to a mother?


We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the countless lives that were lost due to the bombing, and the many survivors who have lived in pain and struggle since. We cannot shatter this momentum of peace – it is priceless. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers died under the insurmountable greed of the Japanese military elite class. We cannot forget those young soldiers who silently longed for their parents, yearned for their wives and children as they passed away amidst the chaos of war. American soldiers have faced similar hardships. We must cherish peace, even if it leaves us poor. The smile pales when peace is taken from us. Wars of today no longer yield winners and losers – we all become losers, as our habitats become inhabitable. We must remember that our happiness today is built upon the hopes and dreams of those that passed before us.


Japan is a phenomenal country – however, we must be cognizant of the fact that we waged war on the US, and received aid from them afterwards. We must be cognizant of the pain that we inflicted upon our neighbors during the war. Favors and good deeds are often forgotten, but trauma and misdeeds are passed on from one generation to the other – such is the way the world works. The ability to live in peace is a country’s most prized commodity. I pray that Japan continues to be a shining example of peace and harmony. I pray that this message resonates with young people all over the globe. Please excuse my handwriting.


Hibakusha from Nagasaki, Hayasaki Inosuke"

Mr. Takato Michishita

Age: 78

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 4.7km


“Don’t go to school today,” my mother said. “Why?” my sister asked.


“Just don’t."


Air raid alarms went off regularly back then. On August 9, however, there were no air raid alarms. It was an unusually quiet summer morning, with clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. It was on this peculiar day that my mother insisted that my older sister skip school. She said she had a “bad feeling.” This had never happened before.


My sister begrudgingly stayed home, while my mother and I, aged 6, went grocery shopping. Everyone was out on their verandas, enjoying the absence of piercing warning signals. Suddenly, an old man yelled “Plane!" Everyone scurried into their homemade bomb shelters. My mother and I escaped into a nearby shop. As the ground began to rumble, she quickly tore off the tatami flooring, tucked me under it and hovered over me on all fours.


Everything turned white. We were too stunned to move, for about 10 minutes. When we finally crawled out from under the tatami mat, there was glass everywhere, and tiny bits of dust and debris floating in the air. The once clear blue sky had turned into an inky shade of purple and grey. We rushed home and found my sister – she was shell-shocked, but fine.


Later, we discovered that the bomb was dropped a few meters away from my sister’s school. Every person at her school died. My mother singlehandedly saved both me and my sister that day.


Left, translated:


"Dear young people who have never experienced war –


Wars begin covertly. If you sense it coming, it may be too late.


Within the Japanese Constitution you will find Article 9, the international peace clause. For the past 72 years, we have not maimed or been maimed by a single human being in the context of war. We have flourished as a peaceful nation.


Japan is the only nation that has experienced a nuclear attack. We must assert, with far more urgency, that nuclear weapons cannot coexist with mankind.


The current Abe administration is slowly leading our nation to war, I’m afraid. At the ripe age of 78, I have taken it upon myself to speak out against nuclear proliferation. Now is not the time to stand idly by.


Average citizens are the primary victims of war, always. Dear young people who have never experienced the horrors of war – I fear that some of you may be taking this hard-earned peace for granted.


I pray for world peace. Furthermore, I pray that not a single Japanese citizen falls victim to the clutches of war, ever again. I pray, with all of my heart.


Michishita Takato"

Mr. Michishita's mother, Teru. She injured her right eye due to the air blast and was denied treatment for years after. She has since lost her sight.

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Mrs. Shigeko Matsumoto

Age: 77

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 800m


There were no air raid alarms on the morning of August 9, 1945. We had been hiding out in the local bomb shelter for several days, but one by one, people started to head home. My siblings and I played in front of the bomb shelter entrance, waiting to be picked up by our grandfather.


Then, at 11:02am, the sky turned bright white. My siblings and I were knocked off our feet and violently slammed back into the bomb shelter. We had no idea what had happened.


As we sat there shell-shocked and confused, heavily injured burn victims came stumbling into the bomb shelter en masse. Their skin had peeled off their bodies and faces and hung limply down on the ground, in ribbons. Their hair was burnt down to a few measly centimeters from the scalp. Many of the victims collapsed as soon as they reached the bomb shelter entrance, forming a massive pile of contorted bodies. The stench and heat were unbearable.


My siblings and I were trapped in there for three days.


Finally, my grandfather found us and we made our way back to our home. I will never forget the hellscape that awaited us. Half burnt bodies lay stiff on the ground, eye balls gleaming from their sockets. Cattle lay dead along the side of the road, their abdomens grotesquely large and swollen. Thousands of bodies bopped up and down the river, bloated and purplish from soaking up the water. “Wait! Wait!” I pleaded, as my grandfather treaded a couple paces ahead of me. I was terrified of being left behind.

Left, translated:


"I pray that every human in the world lives in peace.


Matsumoto Shigeko"

Mr. Minoru Moriuchi

Age: 80

Location: Nagasaki

Distance from hypocenter: 4.8km


On the morning of August 9, 1945, I was perched atop a giant persimmon tree in our backyard catching cicadas. Suddenly, the sun exploded.


One by one, relatives appeared at our doorstep. Most were heavily injured. I will always remember when my aunt arrived carrying two children, one on her arm and one on her back. Both were burnt so badly that I could hardly differentiate between their face and the rest of their head. The one on her back was dead upon arrival.


I was delighted when my older brother arrived some days later, without a single scratch – he was my favorite brother. However, within two weeks, he started vomiting repeatedly. We laid him down in the main room along with a few other injured relatives, and slept outside to make room for the ill. He vomited for days and grew rail thin. One day, my brother requested that he be moved to the basement. “But you are sick,” my mother begged. “We can’t put you down there. It’s dark and cramped.”


“Put me down in the basement, please,” my brother insisted.


Alas, we laid a small futon down in the basement and placed him there. Shortly after, my brother passed away.

Since the bombing, Mr. Moriuchi has suffered Hepatitis C, colon cancer, cataracts, and progressive stomach cancer. Eight years ago, he suddenly lost his ability to write.

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