12. My Daughter and I, Absent-minded in the A-bombing

My background

I was born in Kibi-gun, Okayama prefecture as the second daughter to my parents, Kensuke Hagiwara and Sumi. I had two brothers and five sisters. Still alive now are my elder sister and younger sister who live in Okayama prefecture and I. The rest of my brothers and sisters have already passed away.

My father was working at the town office. When I was twelve years old, I was adopted to my aunt' s family, the Yoshida, for some complicated reasons. Later the relationship became rough between my own family and my aunt' s, so I felt uncomfortable at her house and deserted. Then, I worked for about five years as a live-in salesgirl in Sakai-machi, Hiroshima.

When I was 19, I got married to Jun Tanabe. About one year later, I was divorced taking my daughter, Yukiko with me. I had a hard time in raising Yukiko single-handedly.  When Yukiko grew up and got married to Mamoru Yokogawa, I was so happy and felt my long time efforts were rewarded.

As I was left alone, I was remarried to Eiichi Uemura in 1943, who was running a kamaboko (boiled fish paste) factory. He was a very difficult man, a kind of drunkard, so I had to go through many difficulties. I attempted to kill myself twice, but I was saved thanks to the faith in Christianity. I looked so worn out that my friends said, “Your face is made of wrinkles. ”

The situation at the time of the A-bombing

In January 1945, my husband was drafted to the navy and stationed in Kure. When the A-bomb was dropped, my daughter, who happened to be staying at my home, and I were exposed to the A-bomb at the entrance of my house. With a deafening roaring sound, about 80 % of my house were broken by the fierce blast. I had a few cuts on my hands caused by shattered pieces of glass. My daughter and I were absentminded for a while. Soon, people with burns and injuries began to return, having been worn to rags. Fortunately, my daughter, Yukiko was safe. When we were helpless and hopeless with our wrecked house, my husband came back from Kure taking a three-day-leave. It was impossible to sleep in our house that night, so we took refuge with Kaidoji Temple in the mountain of Kusatsu.

The following day, my husband, my daughter and I headed for the 2nd Platoon in Motomachi to search for my daughter' s husband. Getting around Tenma-cho, we saw an unbearably hideous scene. People' s faces were awfully changed and unrecognizable, and a half-burned horse was still smoldering. All the streets were blocked off with the dead bodies, so we couldn' t go any farther. The stench of the bodies was so terrible that we felt sick and turned around. Later we were told that Mamoru was instantly killed in the A-bombing at his station on Aug. 6. We later received his ashes from the army.

The life after the A-bombing

As my son-in-law, Mamoru died in the bombing, Yukiko, who had no children, came back to our home and my husband was demobilized from the army. We made a living by resuming our business, making boiled fish paste, which had been suspended for a while because of material shortage. After a while, Yukiko was remarried to Hiroshi Murayama and had two children, Chieko and Shunsuke. Then they moved to Yokohama when Hiroshi was transferred there. After my husband died of heart attack in 1955, I was employed and worked for a boiled fish paste factory from the age 40 to 51. After quitting the job, I did not have any regular job for about 9 years because of my feeble physical condition caused by the A-bombing. To make a living, other than my husband' s pension, I had our factory remodeled to rooms for rent. When about 60, my health condition improved, so I worked as a scrubwoman at the main office of Hiroshima Bank until I became 64.

After my daughter, Yukiko died of lung cancer in a hospital in Yokohama, I became pessimistic with no hope and had nothing to live for. Although I had two sisters in Okayama, my son-in-law, Hiroshi and two grandchildren, I didn' t feel like depending on any of them. I was not in good shape and leading a lonely life.

The long, hard days

Around 1973, I stopped working and I was worried very much about my future. Although I had supported my son-in-law and grandchildren financially, I somehow didn' t get along with them. My sisters were too old to depend on. When I was feeling solitude under these circumstances, I heard about the A-bomb Nursing Home. I made up my mind, and went to the City Office to apply for admission. I sold my house to the landowner for next to nothing.

I became a resident of the Home in June 1979. In the beginning, I had some difficulties getting along with the residents. But lately, I even think why I didn' t enter the Home earlier, looking back my long, painful days after the A-bombing. Now I am hoping that I would live in good shape as long as I could. I am so grateful and content with the life at the Home.

Written by Chitose Uemura (74)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Kusatsu-higashi-machi, outside the house, 4.1 km from the hypocenter
Acute symptoms in those days
Injury on my hands caused by fragmented glasses
The dead in my family
My daughter' s husband who belonged to the 2nd Platoon died in the A-bombing.

The author of the stories here comes under “Hiroshima Council of the A-bomb Counter-disaster Measures ”, which is the managing body of the Funairi Mutsumien, Hiroshima A-bomb nursing home.

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