Memoir of the A-bombing:
Carrying the Wishes of the Atomic Bomb Victims
－No more war, No more Hiroshima－
by Ken INOKUCHI
Atomic Bomb Witness for this Foundation
Early years spent in state of emergency
August 6, 1945 was a midsummer's day with the sun beating down harshly from the morning.
I was 14 years old, a second-year student at the former Sanyo Junior High School.
I had left my home in Miyajima to work as a mobilized student at the Toyo Seikan factory in Temma-cho (1.5km from the hypocenter).
In Japan at the time, even junior high school students were pulled in to work at factories producing commodities needed for war, and we worked from morning until night.
At the factory where I worked we were making cans for canned food to be sent to the battlefields.
Tired from the tough work every day, on the morning of August 6 I said "I want to take a day off".
But my mother urged me on, saying "I've made your lunch, so chin up and do your best".
There were food shortages at the time, and having a delicious home-made lunch was very special, and something I was grateful for.
Wanting to follow my mother's encouraging words I quickly got ready just like any other day, boarded the 7:10am boat leaving Miyajima, crossed over to Miyajimaguchi on the opposite shore, and then got on the Hiroshima Electric Railway train heading for Hiroshima.
I got off the train at Koi (now Nishi-Hiroshima) Station, met with three friends, and we walked together to the main gate of the company.
Trauma from the A-bomb experience continues today
When we arrived at the factory I went to the toilet, and then headed for the main meeting room for the roll call to be held at 8:20am.
Just before the entrance to the room, in the instant that I looked up at the sky, there was suddenly an intense, dazzling flash of orange light.
I was knocked down by the shock of it, and I crawled into the room.
It was then that there was an awful rumbling boom, and with that the large room collapsed, with us students all trapped in the rubble.
The room was pitch black, the air foul and stifling.
I passed out.
After a while the heartbreaking voices of some of the 150 students trapped in the rubble could be heard calling out to friends and mothers－"Help! Help!"
Fires had taken over the whole factory, and the main meeting room had also started to burn.
I was awoken by the fiery wind.
Looking around me, I saw that my classmates who had been on the east side of the large room had been thrown by the blast to the corner of the west side of the room, and were piled on top of one another together with desks and chairs and rubble.
The students at the top of the pile pushed off the desks and they were all able to get out, but with the sea of flames surrounding us, everyone desperately looked for a way to escape.
The building was located on the river shore, so most students jumped 10 meters from the window down to the riverbank.
The flash of light had injured my eyes and I could not really see what was below, but I didn't want to die, so I jumped.
However, below me was scrap from building demolition work, and there were a number of long nails sticking up from the scrap.
When I pulled out one of the nails that had pierced through the tabi boots that I was wearing, the pain nearly reduced me to tears.
When I looked along the riverbank, there were 200－300 people who had been involved in building demolition work.
The skin on their backs was all peeled away and hanging down from their waist, and the sinews carrying their lifeblood were also swept away.
The faces of the people suffering facial burns did not look like human faces.
There were people who had been thrown by the blast suffering major injuries, people trapped under buildings, people who had passed out by the multiple shocks of it all, and people running around in confusion saying
"Water, please give me water" … the tragic scene was like a living hell.
"A-bomb Drawings by Survivors" by Kichinosuke TAMADA,
A-bomb survivors fleeing in confusion (riverbank at the east end of Fukushima Bridge)
I wiped my face with my handkerchief, feeling something like sweat; when I looked at my handkerchief it was stained with bright red blood, and I felt incredible pain.
Countless shards of glass and other material were stuck in my head and face.
I wanted to somehow get home as quickly as possible, so I picked up a stick lying on the ground nearby, and using it as a crutch.
I started to walk slowly, step by step, enduring the pain in my leg.
The bridge that I always crossed had collapsed, so I crawled over the Hiroshima Electric Railway railroad bridge.
The sleepers on the bridge were burning here and there.
The opposite riverbank was also covered in rubble, and there were flames rising up in some places.
It was hard to see where the road was.
There were people covered in blood, people with burns all over their body fleeing on unsteady feet in the same direction as me.
Those people looked more like ghosts than human beings.
When I finally reached a place where I could see the burning cinema in Koi, I felt loneliness but at the same time a sense of relief that I had managed to walk this far.
It was then that the sky suddenly grew dark, and large droplets of black rain began to fall.
When the rain hit my body I felt a little pain.
With that rain, the blood from my head ran down to my tattered uniform, and I was now covered in blood and at a loss as to what to do.
A middle-aged man in a rescue truck passed by, and took me in his truck to an emergency aid station.
In that moment I really felt that I had met with God, and tears of gratitude streamed down my face.
The aid station was full of the seriously injured; around 300 people were lying on straw mats there.
I had my face and head wounds sterilized, large shards of glass pulled out, and was wrapped in bandages.
I heard that trains were leaving from Arate (now Minami-Kusatsu) Station for Miyajima, so I stood up again and started to walk aiming for that station.
I was able to get on a train at Arate Station, and when I arrived in Miyajima my worried parents were waiting at the harbor for me.
My parents were surprised to see my head wrapped in bandages, but happy that I had managed to arrive home alive, and we cried as we hugged each other.
Message for peace
However, from that night that I arrived home I suffered from fever, diarrhea, and hair loss, which continued for over two weeks.
Doctors did not know how to treat me, so all I could do was take the medicine we had at home and rest.
It took around two weeks to remove all the glass from my head and face and sterilize the wounds.
Prior to the bombing I had good eyesight, but because of the flash from the bomb my vision became dim, and for a while I kept bandages on both my eyes.
When I jumped from the factory to the riverbank I had hurt my feet, knees and back, and I could barely even walk around the house.
The food shortages at the time meant that the staple food of rice was rationed and you could only eat vegetables if you grew them yourself.
So I was malnourished and extremely weak. Even after the bombing, air-raid sirens continued to wail until the end of the war on August 15, and I was constantly anxious and scared.
Peace is created by valuing every individual human life.
This can be achieved by placing importance on human relationships in one's everyday life.
Having compassion towards others, understanding people's pain, believing in people, putting yourself in someone else's shoes, learning about other countries' customs, lifestyles and cultures through cross-cultural interaction, a willingness to accept each other.
Once people come to understand one another through such interaction, the small peace around us will grow to become peace throughout the world.
To all those who take on the responsibility for world peace from now on－remember my atomic bomb experience and my thoughts so that the awful atomic bomb that threw human beings into the depths of hell will never again be repeated.
Profile [Ken INOKUCHI]
Born in Miyajima in 1931.
Graduated from Chuo University Faculty of Law in 1958.
Passed the Hiroshima City senior administrative officer exam in the same year.
After starting work, obtained professional license in social education from the Ministry of Education.
Mainly involved in the field of communication including peace culture, international exchange and sound youth development.
After retirement, elected for four terms as representative of the World Heritage-listed Itsukushima Shinto Shrine and for two terms to the Miyajima Town Assembly (prior to the merger with Hatsukaichi City).
In 2001, participated as chief promoter in the establishment of the Miyajima UNESCO Association.
Currently serving fourth term as President.
Recently spent four months travelling to 23 countries to participate in atomic bombing testimonial activities.