Annihilation 2

A-bomb account

Kaname Yatsuzuka at the Weaponry Division, where he was posted, looking for roofing tiles for neighboring houses with his wife, Aiko, (then, 35) and his fourth son, Yoshitada (then, 1; called Taa-chan) when they all experienced the atomic bombing.

My wife came running to me barefoot with hair disheveled and gruesome rivulets of blood flowing from her head. She tugged at my hand trying to pull me away while crying Taa-chan’s name. I yelled at her to wait, but she wouldn’t let go. I asked her what was wrong with Taa-chan and she ran away crying that he had been killed by a tree.
Yoshitada was killed instantly when a silk tree split his skull in two like a bunraku puppet. In a daze, I picked him up and he was still pliant and warm. Blood from his head flowed onto my arms. His eyes were open slightly and I could see his white baby teeth through his sandy lips...Just 30 minutes ago my cute, youngest son frolicked here, but oh this is such a hellish way to part from your child...Neglecting the important duties I had, I cried in spite of myself and the tears streamed down my cheeks. However, my weighty mission was to get the wounded soldiers to safety.
I shut my eyes at once and then went and plopped Yoshitada’s body into the large water tank behind the headquarters.

After that, the area near the Weaponry Division was engulfed in flames, but being a man of responsibility, Kaname was determined to remain until the end. Later, when he was able to confirm that almost all of the staff had evacuated, he felt relieved.
Sitting down at the burnt out ruins of the headquarters, he glanced at the tank and saw that Yoshitada was floating there.

I hugged him with all my strength and wiped the water from his face. What did this pure hearted one-year old infant ever do wrong? So much for a brutish soldier, but how could someone kill this innocent smiling child? This is some kind of a mistake. This victim. Thinking about how pitiful this is, I couldn’t stop my tears. Moreover, no matter that I had an official duty, what a stupid father I was to throw his dead body into a tank. As I stood in the open space where no eyes were watching, I raised my voice and cried for forgiveness. I called out maddeningly to Taa-chan to show his smiling face to me once more.
Deciding that I could at least cremate him there in the same place that my men died, I gathered wood and stacked it on a remaining flame from the burned out ruins of the headquarters. I stacked a wooden board on top of that, but my determination weakened as I was about to lay him on the fire, leaving time to just pass while I refused to let him go. But I remembered I still had a duty to return and see to the housing of the wounded. I got up the courage to lay him there, head pointing to the north, and covered his face with my handkerchief. While chanting the name of Amida Buddha, I bid my final farewell, and then removing my handkerchief, I took one last look at his face.

Subordinate’s leather wallet, medal, and wristwatch

Kaname Yatsuzuka (then, 43) was in charge of the repair shop at the Chugoku Military District Weaponry Division and experienced the bombing at the repair shop in Moto-machi (1,250m from the hypocenter). Although he had been trapped under the rubble, he was not scratched or burned. However, his wife, Aiko (then, 35), had been gathering roofing tiles for houses in the neighborhood with their fourth son, Yoshitada (then, 1), and they both experienced the bombing there. Yoshitada died instantly, trapped under a building. While mourning the loss of his son, Kaname had to cremate the boy himself.
Having lost 58 of his subordinates, Kaname went to the charred ruins of the repair shop every day to dig up the remains and possessions of the personnel in his charge and deliver them to their next of kin.
These objects were preserved since their owners are unknown.
Donated by Kaname Yatsuzuka


At the Heart of Hiroshima’s Changes