“The basis for peace is for people to understand the pain of others.”
An atomic bomb victim, Mr. Katsuji Yoshida, left this message for us before he passed away in 2010. He was a member of my family temple, Kougenji and also a good friend of my father. He was thirteen years old when the A-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9th, 1945. He was badly burned because he was close to ground zero. Later, he made a big effort to tell his experience to younger generations. He also came to the U.S.A. to convey his experience and wish for peace. I truly appreciate his words, which are related to the Buddha’s great compassion. I would like to introduce his article written in 2005 and think about “Peace” with you.
Transfer to the Omura Naval Hospital
Kounji temple was in front of our house. People cremated the bodies at the temple’s grounds. The smells of cremation flowed into our house. Pus and maggots were oozing out all over my body. These nasty odors blended and filled our house. I was so relieved to be able to go home and meet my parents. After a while, I became unconscious. Later, I was told that I kept talking in delirium.
I was sent to the Shinkozen elementary school where there was an aid station. I saw a lot of people lying on beds who had no external wounds yet they died the next morning. Later, I was transferred to the Omura Naval Hospital. Many American doctors were sent there. Fortunately, Penicillin was already discovered by then and was being used to cure infection.
At the end of 1945, the left side of my body including my face was cured. My left eye also got well, but my right cheek was still charred. Mr. Sumiteru Taniguchi who got burnt on his back was in the next bed. Mr. Senji Taniguchi was also in the same hospital.
Discharging from the Hospital and being exposed to stares
One year later, I was discharged from the hospital and left for my home in Nagasaki. When I arrived at the Omura station and went to the waiting room, people suddenly stopped chatting and stared at me. I was shocked and became overwhelmed with grief. My Fifteen years old eyes were blurred with tears. I really wanted to go back to my home, but the passengers in the train also stared at me. It was a steam locomotive. It took an hour and a half to the Nagasaki station. I felt that it was much longer than that. A long time had already since I was transferred to the Omura Naval hospital. I finally got to the Nagasaki station. Even there, people stared at my face. Nobody else had burns any more. I was very ashamed for my miserable face and body to be seen. I avoided walking downtown. Instead, I walked over a hill and went home. When I arrived at home, I cried a lot.
(To be continued)