20. We Cut off Our Daughter's Hair and Said Good-Bye to Her Body with the Hair as Her Remembrance

  During the Asia-Pacific War, under the mobilization law of the entire nation and the mobilization law of teachers and students of the national schools, I had to leave home almost every early morning in the intense heat of summer, as a mobilized student to demolish houses for fire prevention. At 8:15 a.m., on August 6th, in Showa 20th (1945), at the moment that I was just started to work, an airplane left leaving a flash. Later I knew, it was the A-bomb. The blast blow buildings off, fires broke out, and it darkened. Many people who were both at home and work places were hit by this flash, and tens of thousands dead bodies were scattered on the streets. I couldn't avoid seeing them.

  My injury was light, so I started to look for my daughter who was working in Zakoba-cho. I searched squares and remaining hospitals for four days, but I could not find my daughter. I was so desperate that I asked many passers-by and got some informations. According to them, there were many injured people at the transportation section of the Army, and I went there, where I was told to go to the quarantine on the Ninoshima island, I went to this island. I searched from the first ward, then the second, and finally I found my daughter at the 10th ward, and identified her.

  She had burns all aver. It was so painful to see her and I was too shocked to shed tears. I really hated the war which put young students like her in this cruel situation. Her body was covered with many blisters the size of two centimeters to four or five centimeters, how could she survive? Love, lament, agony were incomparable.

  Even when I am writing this, I can't help shedding tears. There were hundreds or thousands of children crying for water, water, water. But I was told not to give them water. My daughter was naked, so I brought a bath towel for her to cover her body, but her body was so seriously burned all over that I could not put it on her. The dishes were not equipped, and I gave her a little porridge from a bucket. In spite of the desperate need of a proper treatment like injection or medication, she could not get any of them due to the shortage of doctors or orderlies. She was just laid on a grass mat on the floor. It was all of a sudden, all that was heard here was the voice of crying. How can I describe this terrible tragedy? What a pity it was!

  As I wanted her to see her mother and big brother, Hiroshi (in the third year of a junior high school), I left her with the promise to return soon. However, it was harder to get to home than I thought. Even though I took a train from the Ujina Station, It stopped on the way. I got irritated and got off the train and started to walk. I walked seven, eight km and got home in the evening. I told about our daughter's situation to my wife and son. We got ready and went to the Ujina Port. My wife joined us despite her serious burns. Nevertheless, the Military didn't operate the boat service to Ninoshima Island. On that night, we had to wait until the dawn in an air-raid shelter at Ujina and my wife suffered from the pain and the stench of her burns. At last, we ere able to take the boat and meet our daughter at the No.10 ward of the rescue center.

  We talked about our various sufferings, in the meantime Hiroko's condition changed, shortly before 10:00 a.m. and she died very quickly. It was pity that the war took her life. This child, her mother, and her brother, how bitter they must have felt! However, we were not permitted to take her body back home with us. Therefore, we cut off my daughter's hair and said good-bye to her body. The staff at the rescue center gave us a name-plate of her and made a promise that her body would be cremated and her bones would be handed over to us on the 14th of August. On August 14th, I walked 13, 14 km to Ninoshima from my wife's parents' house where my second and third daughters were evacuated. There I received my daughter's bones and had a simple funeral with prayer at a temple on the island.

  In addition to this daughter, Hiroko, we had another baby who was Hiroko's favorite. This baby was crushed under the fallen house and burned to death. The baby had been carried on her mother's back and, because the air-raid stopped, she put the baby down on the sitting room. No sooner had the mother started the cleaning-up, when the house collapsed from the blast. The mother and the baby got separated and the mother was also crushed under the two-storied house. There was nothing to be done. The baby was blown away, and the mother looked for it despite the pain of her injuries. However, in the darkness, there was no way to orient herself. She was barely able to flee to Hijiyama, because she was badly burned over half of her body and her clothes were burned to a crisp. Toward the evening, she went to her sister's house in the suburbs. Later she went back to the place, where our house was situated to search for the baby's body, but in vain. We collected some soil from the ruins of our house in tears, and we became full of sorrow, woe, and anger.

  My wife was in serious condition due to her burns. Nevertheless, she had to walk more than ten km at a time to the Hiroshima provisional health center to get medicine for many years.

  I'd like to request the Japanese government to ask the countries which possess nuclear weapons to come to Japan and see the disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I'd like to request the Japanese government to appeal the nuclear abolition policy to the rest of the world so that the world will be able to create peace and happiness for human kind. Nuclear weapons are massive killing weapons and can cause the extinction of the world. I'd like to learn a lesson from the A-bomb victims and pray for world peace.

  On top of that, I would like to convey the A-bomb victims' desperate messages for peace, for ever.

Written by Shiromi Kagawa (Minami-cho, Hiroshima)

Death in the Atomic boming :
Hiroko Kagawa (a second grader at the Senior Course of the Senda National Elementary School)