“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.
I cannot forget the day even though I try to forget it. It happened on August 9th, 1945 at 11:02 AM.
The air-raid warning had been called off in the morning, so my friends and I, seven of us, left a place of refuge at a commercial high school and began to walk back to an industrial high school. On the way there, we found a water well by a farmer’s house. We were so thirsty so we decided to stop there and have some water. By chance, I looked up and saw two parachutes coming down from a break in the clouds. My friends also held their hands toward sun and looked at the parachutes. At that moment, “Kaboom”, An A-bomb was exploded. It is difficult to find words to describe the moment.
My body was blown off and flew over a vegetable field, and road. I flew to a rice field about 40 meters away (about 44 yards). Some people described the sound of the explosion of A-bomb “Pika-Don”. However, I didn’t understand at all what happened at that time. I didn’t feel any pain. I was quite conscious while my body was in the air. ( I think it was about a few seconds.)
After a while, I felt burning pain and my body was curling up. It was as if my body was a dried squid that was being grilled. I only had experienced slight a burn that formed blisters before. However, this time my burn was more severe. I was covered in blood and my skin was hanging down. My head’s skin was still there but got charred. The cold water in the rice filed brought me back to myself. At first, I felt at ease that it was just a burn and I could cure it if I applied some ammonia water. I didn’t feel any terrible pain. I experienced severe pain later.
<It was a nightmare. The Urakami river was dyed a blood red and was filled with people.>
When I looked around, everybody, men, women, young and old people, were burned and had charred skin. These people screamed and came down from a hill and gathered at a riverbank. I could hear an airplane’s menacing sound from the sky. I covered my body with leaves to hide. Around that time, I began to feel fear. My burned body felt more pain.
After the explosion, my friends and I were talking to each other without knowing what happened to our faces. One person had a piece of mirror and we looked at it. Something weird was reflected in the mirror. We were shocked and frightened more when we saw our burned faces.
We could not distinguish these people who were walking down from the hill. We couldn’t tell if they were men or women. They were almost naked. When we went near ground zero, we found a charred body, a person whose eyes fell out, a person whose internal organs came out, and a person who had no arms and legs. People wandered around. We found many burned people at the Urakami River near Shimo Ohashi. The river was dyed the color of blood and oil. It was very dirty. Some of the people went down to the river and drank the dirty water. They died there one after another. We saw the horrid sight from shore. Our school song said “The Urakami river is pure and beautiful…”. The river was dyed a blood red and filled with dead people. It was the horrible day.
(To be continued)
This Sunday (8/6) marks the 75th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Join us for our annual Atomic Bomb Victims’ memorial service at 10:00 AM on our YouTube channel.