The atomic bombs stole away countless lives indiscriminately. Some were killed instantly by heat rays, the blast, and radiation, but others were trapped under collapsed houses where they burned alive in the blaze. Others died in agony right in front of their family, despite their desperate care. Still others went missing forever. Many died of the “A-bomb disease” despite the absence of any apparent injuries. The mission for those who witnessed these countless tragic deaths was to ‘live.’
Toshiko Saiki (then, 25) lived in Hirose-moto-machi (now, Nishi-tokaichi-machi, Naka-ku) with her mother, older brother, and younger sister. They were a family of four. On the day of the bombing, Toshiko was visiting her older sister and her husband, who lived on the outskirts of Hiroshima City and who were looking after her child. Toshiko saw the mushroom cloud and went back into the city. She walked and walked day after day in search of her family. Her mother was found dead. Toshiko was reunited with the brother she lived with, who came back bleeding. She found her eldest brother severely injured, his skull exposed, and his two small children burned all over their bodies, their ribs were sticking out. She also found her younger sister, but they all died, one after another. Even those who had relatively minor injuries died. In the end, within 70 days of the bombing, Toshiko lost thirteen family members, including her mother, older brothers, younger sister, and her parents-in-law. Toshiko herself eventually started suffering from radiation poisoning. She was further saddened by the prejudice against A-bomb disease, which she felt even from her siblings.
Despite her suffering, Toshiko put all her energy into raising her three children with her husband who came back from the war. After losing so many family members to the bomb, she devoted herself for more than 40 years to taking care of the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, the tomb for the remains of about 70,000 unknown victims. Toshiko has also actively talked about her A-bomb experience to help make sure that such a war will never happen again.
Yoshiki Azuma was a first-year student at Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial School. In 1944, it was decided that the main building in Eba-machi would be used for the Hiroshima branch of the Army Ordnance School. Thus, the commercial school students had to move to the campus of the Hiroshima School of Education located in Minami-machi.
Yoshiki experienced the atomic bombing during the morning gathering on the school playground. He suffered severe burns all over his body and was taken to the Toyo Kogyo dormitory. His mother Miyako looked for him all over the city, finally finding him at the dormitory. Miyako took Yoshiki back to Kure, where she had taken refuge, and desperately provided the best care and treatment she could. Nevertheless, Yoshiki passed away on September 24. Having lost their only son, the couple lived the rest of their life alone. They never spoke about these articles left behind by their son.
Trousers and cap