Sadako and the Atomic Bombing

2 Sadako at Two

August 6, 1945
The world's first atomic bomb used against human beings
detonated over Hiroshima.
Sadako's family also experienced the bombing.

It was a hot summer morning.

Around 1945, American planes were flying over Japan dropping bombs on cities. These were air raids. American planes sometimes flew over Hiroshima, setting off sirens and sending people fleeing to air-raid shelters.

Air-raid Shelter

Air-raid shelters were built underground in backyards and other open areas.

On the morning of August 6, air-raid alert sounded just after 7:00 a.m. After a while, the all-clear sounded, and people began to move about their daily lives again. Sadako, her grandmother, her mother, and brother Masahiro were eating breakfast together.

Blackout Covers Air-raid Hood Dining Table
Click here for an explanation.

Blackout Covers

To make sure lights in rooms could not be seen from the outside, people covered their lights with black cloth. Whenever an air-raid siren sounded, they quickly covered the lights.

Air-raid Hood

During air-raids, people wore padded hoods to protect their heads from objects sent flying by the blast.

Air-raid Hood

Dining Table

The legs of this table are built to fold in under it. When meals were finished, the legs were collapsed and the table put away in a small space.

A blinding flash, then a thunderous blast attacked the family.

Mushroon Cloud
Mushroon CloudPhoto by the U.S. military

Black Rain

The walls of the house toppled, and Sadako and the others were thrown. Masahiro and grandmother were injured but, miraculously, Sadako and her mother were unharmed. Somehow, all escaped from the collapsed house and fled toward the river. Along the way, Sadako's grandmother turned back to get something from the house. She was never seen again.
Fires were igniting here and there. Someone helped the family into a small, decrepit boat to save them from the fires. Though only four at the time, Masahiro remembers desperately bailing water.
While the family was on the boat, rain began to fall. The rain left black splotches on Sadako's clothes.

People drinking black raindrops
People drinking black raindrops
Drawing by Tomiko Miyaji

Sadako's grandmother dies.

For the past month, the Army Hospital patients and staff, including Father Shigeo, had been evacuated to Miyoshi City in north Hiroshima Prefecture. After the bombing, Shigeo returned to Hiroshima as a rescue squad member, erecting tents and helping the injured. On the 9th, Shigeo finally had the chance to return to his burned home, where he learned that his mother was dead.