Memoir of the A-bombing:
Young people piled up like logs
by Kiyomi Kono
Atomic Bomb Witness for This Foundation

Hiroshima city disappeared
  I was fourteen years old when the atomic bomb was dropped, and living in a town along the Geibi train line, 35 kilometers from the hypocenter. On the evening of August 6 a train carrying large numbers of injured people arrived at the station closest to us, and this was the first time we heard that a large bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and the city had been completely destroyed. My two older sisters were living in Hiroshima, so my mother and I headed for Hiroshima on the first train the next morning. However the train only went as far as Yaga Station, a station on the way. As soon as we got off the train, we were struck by an awful stench that felt like it stung our eyes and nose. And then we were completely shocked. The city of Hiroshima had disappeared without a trace. There were only vast fields, burned black.

People like ghosts
  We walked into the city along a road through the rice fields. On the other side of the road continued a long line of people fleeing, people with severe burns and bleeding. Their hair was frizzled, their faces severely swollen, and they were half naked, with their burnt clothes hanging off them in tatters. Skin peeled away from burns on their shoulders and arms and hung down from their fingertips like old rags. They walked with their hands out in front of them, like ghosts.

Corpses swollen to double their size...corpses laid out on the bridge...
  We reached the city. The narrow roads were so full of corpses that there was no place to step. Human bodies that had been exposed to the strong radiation had swollen to many times their original size and turned a reddish brown color; they were lying face up as though they were grasping at the air. It was impossible to tell if they were men or women. Their eyeballs were flowing down like jelly, with their black eyes... their tongues were stuck far out of their mouths and were burnt to a triangular cinder... their organs were hanging out of their ripped bellies and were the color of a fried egg... There were corpses that were as black as coal and corpses that were half burned.
  At Hijiyama Bridge, dead bodies had been pulled out of the river and were lined up on either side of the bridge, with straw mats placed on top of them. As we crossed the bridge, we could hear the faint voice of a woman from under a mat, saying "Soldier, please help me. Please give me some water." There were some people still alive...

Tragic situation at Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital
- Junior high school students piled up in flowerbeds

  We continued walking along the road through the rubble, and at midday finally reached Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital in Senda-machi town, where my older sister worked. The hospital was also like hell. People covered in blood were lying piled up on the concrete floor, each writhing and crying out "It hurts", "I'm in pain", "Help me", "Oh Mother", "Give me water", "Just kill me"... A number of nurses were running around treating them. We were told by one of the nurses that my sister had been saved and taken to the hospital in Ninoshima island, so we decided to search for my other sister.
  When we went outside the hospital, the dead bodies of junior high school students had been piled in radial fashion like logs in the round flowerbeds on either side of the entrance. Maybe they had been doing building demolition work due to student mobilization? When I looked at their nametags I saw that they were in the same year as me. I experienced a great shock at seeing the corpses of these young people who had died as though they were nothing at the tender age of 13 or 14.
Corpses of junior high school students piled up like lumber
("A-bomb Drawings by Survivors" by Kiyomi Kono)
Corpses drifting in the waves
  We crossed Miyukibashi Bridge to look for my sister, who lived in Ujina town. In the river were floating corpses that had been pushed back from the sea on the high tide. Towns on the other side of the bridge were not burned. My sister and her house were safe. So, my mother and I walked back along the streetcar line.

Scenes on the way home –My emotions paralyzed
  In the city, in the hot weather a number of soldiers were ploddingly carrying corpses on stretchers and piling them up like lumber. There were many mountains of corpses.
  In the area close to the hypocenter, many charred trains had derailed. When we passed by one train I happened to look up, and saw black things hanging down in the train. When I looked more closely, I saw it were charred arms. Those arms were still holding on to straps, and had become the sticks of coal.
  When we reached Fukuya department store, the inside of the 8-floor building was burnt black, with only the external walls remaining. The injured were lying in two or three rows on the nearby road. There were also many soldiers crouching down there. Although they did not have any burns their faces were deathly pale and they struggled to breathe. There were some who were dead.
  This was the first time in my life that I had seen so many cruel deaths and injuries. My heart was paralyzed, and after a while I stopped feeling anything, no matter what I saw. I lost my memory of what happened after Fukuya, and have no recollection of how we got home.

Wishing for the abolition of nuclear weapons
  The tragedy of that summer's day cannot be expressed in a drawing or in words. Students who were hungry, had nothing fun in their lives, were told that they were being mobilized for their country, and then died at the young age of 13 or 14. They had so much hope and so many dreams.
  We take our current peaceful life for granted. But I want today's young people to think about the fact that many people lost their lives to give us the peace we have today. There is instability in the world, but as long as I can, I want to continue to have hope, and appeal to young people for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the importance of peace. I believe that, as a survivor of that summer's day, that is my responsibility.

[Kiyomi Kono]

Born in 1931 in Asakita Ward, Hiroshima City. Exposed to the atomic bombing when entering Hiroshima City as a second year student at girls' school on August 7, 1945. Recorded her memories of the bombing in "A-bomb Drawings by Survivors", and published a picture book "watashi wa wasurenai (I will never forget that day)". Started giving A-bomb Survivor Testimony to junior high school students from 2003. Gave testimonies at universities in the state of Missouri (US) in 2011 and in the states of Washington, Oregon and New Mexico (US) in 2013.

to the top of this page ▲

1-2 Nakajima-cho Naka-ku Hiroshima, JAPAN 730-0811
TEL:+81-82-241-5246 Fax:+81-82-542-7941
Copyright(C) Since April 1, 2004. Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation