2. Such Young Children Were Sacrificed

  For around 40 years I lived in 78 Zaimoku-cho, which was near the present location of the Cenotaph in Peace Memorial Park. On that day (Aug.6th), 26 years ago, I had a family of seven. They were: my wife Yoshiko, who was parturient and 38 years old; my first daughter Miyoko, who was a third grader in Girl's Commercial High School and 16 years old; my second daughter Tokiko, who was a second grader in Fukuromachi National Higher Elementary School and 14 years old; my first son Shigeji, who was a fourth grader in Nakajima National Elementary School and 10 years old; my third daughter Hiroko, who was a first grader in Nakajima National Elementary School and 7 years old; my fourth daughter Misao, who was 5 years old; and myself. I worked for a munitions factory in Funairisaiwai-cho, which is 1.5km from my house, and there I was exposed to the disgusting and terrible A-bomb and I barely survived.

  At 3:00pm on that day, I finally arrived at the Motoyasu-river, near the present location of Peace Memorial Museum, and spent the night at the riverside. Early the next morning I walked around to look for my family and found my wife dead, her white bones in the debris. My first son Shigeji had been evacuated to the temple in Mirasaka, but he became sick and returned home. He had classes at Seiganji Temple, which was in the same town as the branch school of Nakajima National Elementary School. When he left home on the previous morning, I told him to stay home when air-raid alarm was given because enemy planes would shoot him. Those were the last words I said to him. I looked for him around the public market in the west end of Shinbashi, where he used to play. Some children were dead, their bodies were like dead dogs, scorched black or brown in hard lumps. I did not know whether they were boys or girls. My children, Shigeji, Hiroko, and Misao, might be among them. How sad it was that such young children became victims. Unintentionally I prayed for them with my palms pressed together. Miyoko, who was a third grader in Girl's Commercial High School, went to the Saving Bureau on the seventh floor of the Fukuya Department Store as a mobilized student, and Tokiko, who was a second grader in Fukuromachi National High School, went to Shinsenba-machi from her school for labor service. Since I had told them to contact a relative in Itsukaichi in case of emergency, I went there. At Itsukaichi Town Office I was told that Tokiko was seriously injured and temporarily placed in the National School in Okugaita. I took the 8:00 pm train from Itsukaichi Station for Kaitaichi Station. Now I will explain in detail unforgettable stories about Tokiko.

  Okugaita was the first place that I went to. The stars were shining brilliantly in the sky. There was no one walking. I walked up along the river and found a large building, which was called the 11th Military Aircraft Factory. I explained to a guard why I came. A woman came to me and said, “I was taking care of your daughter until this afternoon. I will take you to her.”

  I was very pleased. It was about 1:30am when I arrived at the school. The floor of the auditorium was full of people and all of them were seriously burned and injured all over their bodies and were groaning with pain. I saw her! Yes, I found Tokiko at the back of the room. I was pleased from the bottom of my heart. “Toki-cha~n.” I could not say any other words but “good, good”, being choked with tears. The white sailor suit she wore had become hard with clotted blood.

  “Father, how is my sister? ” “ Well,・・・ She ran away to the country with her mother, brother, and sisters.” I told a lie. I felt sorry for her.

  “Father, the person next to me gave me a sugar candy. Another person gave me something. Please say thank you to them.”

  The morning came. It was a hot day, too. This A-bomb survivors' camp (Okugaita National School) was a science classroom which had a wooden floor of 82.5 square meters large. On the left side of the classroom, there was a school ground. In the classroom, to the right of the entrance, there was a platform. There was a blackboard at the back of the room, on which the names of the accommodated people and a menu of the day were written. The room was full of patients who were burned by radioactive rays and were groaning with pain. A lot of flies were buzzing. Injured parts were infected with maggots and smelled very badly.

  Tokiko, in her white sailor suit with clotted blood, was seriously injured on her left wrist and ears. She was usually skinny, but her belly was flattened as if her stomach and back seemed to join. Her head was clear and she just continued to complain, “I have a headache. I have a headache.” I could not do anything. Lunch was poor, only half of a rice ball. My cousin, Sabujiro Yamamoto in Itsukaichi, visited us, which made us very happy. Tokiko wanted to eat a peach so I asked him to get one. I thanked him for going to the trouble of getting it. It became evening. A lot of mosquitoes were buzzing. Tokiko often wanted to go to the toilet and every time I used the common portable toilet, and washed it on the school ground by pumping water on it. I could not sleep at all, but just watched her.

  On the 12th, just after lunch, Sabujiro brought some peaches and Miyoko. I had not seen her for a week and I was so happy to see her safe. It was like a dream. She was exposed on the 7th floor of the Fukuya Department Store and evacuated to her uncle's (Sakutaro Shinagawa) in Nukushina-mura, Aki-gun. Her uncle gave her a plain summer kimono so she brought it for her sister. We let her change clothes. Sabujiro and Miyoko went back home together.

  On the 13th Tokiko said, “Male teacher, male teacher”. I learned that he was a school teacher and he came to see her. When he asked about her condition, she complained about pain on her head. So we checked the back of her head and found something white. With tweezers he pulled out pieces of glass. The biggest one was 6cm long, 1.5cm wide, and 0.3cm deep. There were two more pieces which were a little smaller. Poor Tokiko, how much pain she felt and what a hard time she had!

  Most of the survivors in the room went back home because Bon Festival was coming. Maybe they used to live around there. Only the seriously injured people were left. In the evening, a woman who seemed to be a district nurse left us, saying,” I will be in a night duty room, so if something happens, let me know.”

  “Father, I want to drink tea”, said Tokiko. “There is no tea”, I answered. I did not sleep at all and I could not move due to heartache and giving nursing care every night. “Father, I see tea over there. I will go there and drink it”, said Tokiko reduced to skin and bones. I found a kettle on a big iron brazier about 10 meters away. “I will get it for you.” I said, I crawled to the kettle, and I gave her tea. Alas! I did not know that it became the last drips she drank. Her fingers gradually turned to purple. I prayed she could stay alive that night. She said, “Father, Father, all died, didn't they? Mother, Shigeji, Hiroko, and Misao died, right? ” I cried and cried, praying that she would not die.

  On the morning of the 14th, around 9:00 o'clock, she breathed her last and went on a journey to the next world. I prayed for her with my palms pressed together. I asked the people at school to help cremate her remains and I put her into the big empty box of tobaccos. Two men and I pulled a cart to the crematory in the mountain and cremated here remains. On my way back to the school, by the riverside of the Seno-river, where a nameless board bridge crossed it, I cried and cried intensely until tears stopped running. I lamented that I did not also die. That night I slept on the floor at school for the first time.

  On the morning of the 15th, I gathered her bones at the crematory in the mountain. The bone of the Adam's apple had kept its shape. I prayed with my hands pressed together. I buried the other bones under the tombstone, on which letters of sutra were written, next to the crematory. Holding the bones tightly in my arms, I took a train from Kaitaichi Station for Miyauchi, Hatsukaichi, to where I had evacuated. It was just noon when I arrived at Hiroshima Station.

  A station employee walked around, saying, ”There will be an important announcement. So, all of you, please get off the train.” All of us gathered in front of the radio in the station. The radio said, “Now, the Emperor will announce the end of the war.” We listened to him with our heads down. Some cried and others sobbed but I could not understand anything. People were saying in a weak voice, “Japan was defeated.” I had had a strong conviction that Japan would win. Tears flowed unceasingly. I cannot write any more. I will mourn about this tragedy that happened 26 years ago.

  Only two people out of seven in my family survived.

Written by Shigeru Miyoshi (Hakushima-nakamachi, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Tokiko Miyoshi (a second grader at Fukuromachi National Higher Elementary School)
Shigeji Miyoshi (a fourth grader at Nakajima National Elementary School)
Hiroko Miyoshi (a first grader at Nakajima National Elementary School)