I entered Nagasaki Katsuyama Citizens’ High School in April, 1945. As a member of a group of young people doing civilian work during the war, I delivered newspapers for a local newspaper company. I was thirteen years old. That day, we gathered at the kiosk in front of Nagasaki Station. It was before eleven o’clock a.m. Because the “air raid alert” was changed to “air raid warning”, I went outside.
When I reached Honrenji Temple in Chikugo-machi, I suddenly heard the sound of a B29 engine. Just when I was thinking, “How strange,” I was knocked off my feet by the blast and lost consciousness. When I came to, I was buried in rubble. I could not see or hear anything. I thought my eyes and ears were gone, but I touched them and discovered they were all right.
I went out to the streetcar tracks. There were people covered with blood, walking unsteadily. There were voices calling for help. There were cries of mothers searching for children. Since my family had decided that I would go to the house of an acquaintance in Shiroyama if anything were to happen, I began walking in the direction of Shiroyama. Soon a crowd of people came towards me. The skin of some of the people had melted away, and their hair was burnt. Somebody called to me, “Where are you going?” When I answered, “Shiroyama,” I was told, “It’s completely destroyed.”
In the crowd of people, a friend of mine was being carried on someone’s back. I switched places and carried my friend. My classmate was near death. Chased by tongues of fire, I fled from the NHK radio station to Mt. Kompira. Both the wind coming up from the burning city and the sun were hot. Several people who had lost their homes had gathered at Mt. Kimpira. One person told me, “The boy on your back is dead.” I was tired and worried about my mother. I made a pillow neatly out of grass. I put down my friend on the grass pillow and said to the people around me, “Please take care of him.” Then, I left.
The next day, I found a familiar figure near the air raid shelter at Suwa Shrine. It was my mother. She said, “You’re alive, too!” My brother had also survived. After that, we lived in an air raid shelter. Our food was rice balls carried in from the suburbs. The outside of the rice balls was rotten because of the heat, but we could eat the part in the center near the picked plum. However, healthy people died one after another. The humidity was so bad that our underarms and the backs of our knees became moldy.
We decided to leave Nagasaki. We went by train to Konagai, where my mother’s relatives lived. In the neighborhood of Ohashi, many dead bodies were stacked up in a pile. I put my hands together in prayer as we passed them. When we reached Isahaya station, we saw rows of houses. It was so different from wasteland of Nagasaki. I remember how so surprised I was at the great difference.
I worked an art teacher in junior high school. It is about forty years since the atomic bombing and I can finally speak about the events of that time. Last year I tried to work on a picture called, “A twenty-hour void.” I think that my mission is to tell children about the misery of war and the preciousness of peace.
CHINZEI HIGHSCHOOL (9/12/2005)