Nagasaki survivor, Toyomi Hashimoto (English dubbed)


My child came home shouting,
“Look! Planes are coming!” The moment he had entered the house there was a flash of light and a big “Boom!” The next thing I remember was the sound of people shouting, “Hurry! Fire! Get out of there right away
or you’ll die in the flames! Run!” I saw the fire was approaching but I was trapped under the collapsed house
and could not move. I had to push my belly against a sharp nail
in order to escape. It was terribly painful. I found my son Takashi lying unconscious. The pretty yellow clothes I had put on him
were covered in blood. It was a sore sight to see. He was in terrible condition and looked like
he was dead. Using the light of a candle my husband and I pulled out the shards of
broken glass piercing my son’s body. Despite my own pain, I was too concerned
about my son’s condition to worry about myself. In the middle of the night, I heard my son
say “Mom.” I was so happy that he was alive. The longest day ended and the
following day dawned. People in search of their missing children and
families were turning over corpses, examining them to see if they were their
missing loved ones, crying, “No, it’s not this one and it’s not that one
either! It’s impossible to tell.” The faces of the corpses were burned.
They were disfigured and unidentifiable. Even if one tried to identify the bodies
through what they were wearing their clothing was charred and
beyond recognition. What I saw was a living hell.
It was beyond words to describe. Even after 60 years,
I can still recall the scene so vividly. 2 or 3 days after the bombing I started to bleed from my gums and my hair started to fall out in clumps. I couldn’t believe it… My hair was clotted with dirt and blood. I couldn’t wash my hair. If I tried to comb
my hair, then it would just fall out. My neighbors came to confirm that
I was alive. They were happy to see that I had survived
and encouraged me to take heart. But they died one after another,
over a period of about a month. We would set up a pyre near the air-raid
shelter to cremate their bodies. The ashes would be left there, and whenever
we had to get water from the well we would have to walk among the remains
to get there. We were appalled by the stench. Since there were so many corpses
in our neighborhood, we had to cremate their bodies every day. My vertigo was caused by leukopenia,
a low white blood cell count. My cell count was only
two-thirds of what it should be. Due to the leukopenia, I was chronically ill. Nevertheless, I had to work. My fourth son, who was born in 1952 had some problem with his eyes. He was diagnosed as having glioma,
a type of cancer. I was told that glioma patients’ bodies
gradually deteriorate while their heads begin to swell. Eventually, they die in writhing agony. When my fifth son was born
after I lost my fourth son, I thought to myself that my dead son was
reborn in the form of this boy. I was so happy. But then again,
this boy also had a problem with his eyes. He was also diagnosed with glioma. I thought,
“Why me? Why is this happening again?” I really felt a surge of strong rage
toward the atomic bomb. If only they hadn’t dropped the bomb
this would never have happened. According to the doctor the incidence of cancer is more than double
among [hibakusha]. I went to the US to attend the UN General
Assembly in 1982. On that occasion scientists who had participated in the
Manhattan Project came to see us. They asked us if we held a grudge against
them and the US for developing and using the A-bombs. I said, “Yes. In the beginning I did. I held a deep grudge for having been forced
to live a life of hell. I thought my grudge would last forever. Now, however, what I really want,
rather than holding a grudge, is that no more people,
including the people in the US, have to go through what I experienced.” I told them I would continue to speak up
and share my firsthand experience of the horror of atomic bombs
with as many people as possible. I go to elementary schools
to share my firsthand experience as an A-bomb survivor with children. After my talks, they send me letters,
words of encouragement, their determinations and paper cranes they have made as symbols
of peace. Such responses have encouraged me
to continue my efforts. As long as I live, I will dedicate my life to
sharing my experiences as a [hibakusha] and to speaking out against
the use of atomic bombs so that there will never be a third time that
they are used. I am resolved to live out my life to the fullest
because I believe that is my mission in life.

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