1. My Background

I was born as the eighth child of Mankichi Dairiki, my father, and Tsune, my mother, on February 22, 1927. My parents had three sons and five daughters. But the fourth daughter died at the age of two before I was born. So I was raised as the youngest child of their seven children in Sunabashiri, Kaita-cho, Aki County (present Aki-ku, Hiroshima). We were a farming family, so we never suffered from a scarcity of food, even though in wartime the government required farmers to give a certain amount of their products to them. My father would generously give away sweet potatoes to city people who came for some food, and I remember my mother often gave him a scolding for that. My old friends told me that as an elementary school student, I loved dancing and performed representing my class in front of people. I have completely forgotten about that, though. I was the youngest in my family, so all the members of my family loved and cherished me the most. My father passed away at 77 and my mother at 98. Until they died, both of them felt sorrow and worried about me, because among their seven children, I was the only one who was exposed to the A-bombing.

After I graduated from Yasuda Girl’s High School (now Yasuda Girls’ Junior High and High School), I entered a dressmaking school. But before graduation, at the age of 17, I got married. It was January of the year before the A-bombing. My future husband, Saburo Abe, a military officer, was nine years older than me. When he was serving as a captain in Botanko, Manchuria, the Army gave him a three-month leave and told him to get married during his leave in Japan. He hoped to marry a woman who was about ten years younger. His aunt happened to live two doors away, and she had known me well since I was small. So there was a good match between his family and mine. In those days, parents of a bride and a bridegroom would often decide to have them get married, and they got married meeting each other for the first time at their wedding ceremony. In our case, fortunately we met once and went to see a movie before the wedding.

Entrance ceremony of the dressmaking school

We rented a small house near my parents’ house in Nakano-sunabashiri and started to live with his mother, who had been evacuated from her hometown, Toyonaka-city, Osaka escaping intensified air-raids. Her house was burned in an air-raid after she evacuated to Hiroshima. Saburo and I spent only a week together as a newlywed couple, before he went back to Manchuria alone. We got married in winter, and he said that Manchuria’s winter was too cold for me to go there with him, so my mother-in-law and I were planning to leave for Manchuria in the spring. However, we didn’t go to Manchuria because the war situation became worse, and Saburo was transferred to the southern war front.