17. The Memory of Fumihiko

  The horse-carriage, carrying my second brother's family, my younger sister, and me, passed Nikitsu through Toshogushita. It was when this horse-carriage passed through Hakushima and came to the entrance of Sentei(the Shukkeien garden); that my second brother glanced and saw the body in familiar yellowish short pants in the empty lot by the west drill ground. My second brother got out of the horse-carriage, and my sister-in-law and I followed him. We went to the body, which was wearing the familiar shots and belt. The dead body was my nephew Fumihiko. There was nojacket, and a fist-sized lump was exposed on his chest from which fluid was streaming. A portion of the white teeth was seen on the black face, the fingers of the two hands on the ground were clenched, and the nails embedded on the flesh of hands. Next to my nephew's body lay a middle school student's body, and a bit further that a young woman's body lay, both stiffened in the postures as they had been. My second brother cut off Fumihiko's nails, took off the belt as his keepsake, put a nametag on the body, and left the place. This encounter was so devastating that we could not even cry. (An excerpt from “Summer Flower” by Tamiki Hara)

  This was the sad end of a first grader at Seibi School, Fumihiko Hara. “Summer Flower” was translated into various languages all over the world as an atomic-bomb documentary literature; therefore, the name of Fumihiko in this book is still making people aware of the atomic-bomb tragedy. Every year, the 6th of August comes around.

  Even after many years have passed, the scene of that day comes back clearly in my mind. Only the stone gate posts were left at the ruins of Seibi School which was located at a corner of the west drill ground, when I visited there with my elderly wife.
Water, water, how much water did he want?
Let this sad water penetrate into the mound.
When I call my child's name who needlessly died from the atomic-bombing,I cannot help but shed my tears.

  Kunihiko Hara It was the 23rd of January, 14th year of Showa(1939), when my younger brother Fumihiko was born. The food and clothes were short in supply due to the rapidly escalating war.

  Fumihiko was always wearing the hand-me-down clothes from his three brothers, milk was rationed, and sugar was precious; therefore, he did not know the taste of sweets, and was brought up with alternative food for emergency. We brothers had a good time together, but whenever we occasionally skirmished, Fumihiko was defeated and cried. He was always in disadvantaged position because of his age.

  The war became even more serious in 1945, and some people were concerned that Japan might be defeated. However, most Japanese people believed in Japan's victory and endured daily hardships.

  I, the eldest son in my family, became a first grader at a middle school. I was mobilized to demolish buildings day after day, and came home exhausted.

  My second and third brothers, the fifth and the third graders at an elementary school respectively, were evacuated with other school children to remote Kawachi and Kimita village in Futami-gun leaving their parents. At home, only the younger children were left, that is, first grader Fumihiko, five year-old and three year-old younger sisters.

  In those days, air-raid warnings were often sounded at night. Since we knew that it was dangerous to remain in the center of the city, we took, my brothers and sisters who wanted to sleep in their own beds, out of the home, each time an air-raid siren was sounded. After we left our home in Kamiyanagi-cho, we went across the Sakae bridge, and then walked toward the riverbank heading for Ushita. Night after night, we ended up staying on the grass field overnight.

  On the 6th of August, in 1945, I was exposed to the A-bomb in a middle school building in Kokutaiji-cho (approximately 1000 meters from the hypocenter). Fumihiko went to an elementary school in Hacchobori where he was exposed (approximately 700 meters from the hypocenter).

  I was trapped under the collapsed school building; however, fortunately I could manage to escape without injuries. Most of the other class students, who had been working outside, severely burned all over and passed away by the end of that day. My friend and I desperately fled through fire and smoke, getting over the collapsed buildings, and arrived at the Hiroshima Station by the evening. We went to his grandmother's house in Hongo.

  I will never be able to forget the incident of that horrible day in Hiroshima, and words and pens could never describe it.

  On that day, I wanted to leave Hiroshima as quickly as possible. I stayed at my friend's home about a week, and then I returned to Hiroshima. I was informed that my family was evacuated to Yawata village in Saeki-gun, where I joined my family.

  Back at my home, my father was lying on the bed with some burns on his face and back, my little two sisters were crying out, “It hurts, it hurts”, with burns in their hands and necks, and the young housemaid was suffering from burns on her upper body. The house was full of strange odors and flies swarmed over the injuries. My mother showed me “the finger nails” wrapped in tissue paper, which looked like rice grains, while crying and saying, “Fumihiko died. This is all that we could bring back from his body.”

  According to her, after the exposure to the atomic bomb, my family fled from our house in Kamiyanagi-cho to the Sentei (the Shukkeien garden), and then they went to the opposite bank in a small boat, and spent two nights ant the Toshogu Shrine. Afterwards they took a ride with the factory workers on a horse-carriage hired by our uncle, the head of Hara family, crossed Tokiwa bridge, walked along the hakushima tram line, went through Kamiya-cho to Takanobashi, and crossed Sumiyoshi bridge to head for Yawata village where thy were evacuated. While they were being evacuated, they passed by the Sentei stop of the Hakushima tram line. There my father found Fumihiko's dead body along with the two other bodies, one a woman's, and another a boy's who looked like a first-year student at a middle school. However, the horse-carriage was filled with wounded people, so that they could not bring his body back home and there was no other choice than cutting off the fingernails to bring back.

  Fumihiko's body was lying on the ground, his fist so tightly clenched that the nails were embedded into his flesh, his internal organs were burst out his belly, and his two legs stretched out. Nevertheless, his dead face looked as if he was sleeping peacefully. The faces of the woman and the middle school boy were so seriously burned that they were hardly identifiable. The boy was wearing a buckle of Shudo School. Presumably, the woman was Ms. Numba, Fumihiko's classroom teacher, and the boy was my friend Yamaguchi. I suppose that Fumihiko collapsed at school from internal injuries in his belly, when Ms. Numba found him. She rescued Fumihiko and they fled from the fire. On the way, they met Yamaguchi who had lived near Hacchobori, and the three of them fled together, helping with each other, but soon they ran out of energy and became caught in smoke and fire. Finally they fell and died.

  Many years have passed since Fumihiko died. I, myself, barely survived the A-bomb disease and had various difficulties. Twenty-six years after that incident, the memory of Fumihiko remains in my mind as a cute child.

  The war was totally useless. The Japanese government is trying to compensate people who protected the country during the war. On the other hand, people should have been protected were killed in vain and abandoned without any compensation. On behalf of these people, “The Monument to A-bombed Teachers and Students of National Elementary Schools” is calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons and creation of world peace.

Written by Morio Hara (Hondori, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Fumihiko Hara (a first Grader at Seibi School)