14. A Flash and Tornado

My background

I was born as the youngest child of the three to my parents, Kinzo and Masako Kaya. Father was making geta (Japanese wooden sandals) in Hirose-moto-machi. After completing the Higher Honkawa Elementary School, I did housework to help my parents, and then got married to Tsune Kojima on October 2, 1943.

As the Greater East Asia War broadened, American bombers made increasingly fierce air attacks day after day. We were living a hard life in tense fear. My husband and I were living in Kaminobori-cho. The company my husband was working for was producing weapons. He worked hard as a foreman in the department of gun barrel casting in Nihon Seikosho(Japan Steel Co.). He worked on August 5, and the next day was off. So, he was at home on the 6th.

Couldn' t be at their bedsides when my parents died

At 8 o' clock an air-raid alert was issued, but in ten minutes it was lifted. So, my husband was taking care of his fishing equipment while I was picking up the room before the chest of drawers. At 8:15 a sudden bright flash engulfed us. With a terrific crash, the pillars, the walls, the fittings and the windows were all wrecked. The sliding doors and the furniture were all blown and shattered by the blast. We were trapped under them. Calling out each other' s name, we finally got out of the house and fled to Shukkeien garden to seek shelter. Thirty minutes later a tornado occurred and hailed. Shortly after that, I saw an enemy scout plane coming, which scared me to death.

On August 8, I went to the Hiroshima branch office of Nihon Kangyo Bank in Shimonagarekawa-cho to receive a disaster certificate, where I was given two packages of crackers. On my way home from Hacchobori area, I saw piles of dead bodies along both sides of the street and a lot of dead people with their heads shoved into the fire cisterns. It was indeed a terribly miserable scene. I could' nt help shedding tears.

The flames had overtaken our collapsed house. The entire neighborhood had been burnt out leaving not a single structure. My husband and I decided, anyway, to visit the house my brother' s wife was from, Yagi-mura, Asa-gun seeking for safety. Crossing the Misasa Bridge and walking northward from Yokogawa Station, we reached the house. There, we were told that my parents' house was burned out, that Father was trapped under the house, and that Mother was badly injured on her head and body inside a streetcar near the Dobashi Bridge. We were surprised but didn' t know what to do, so we stayed there overnight.

On the following day we visited my husband' s brother in Mukaibara-cho, Takata-gun and decided to stay with his family for some time. To my grief, Mother died on August 17 and Father, on September 1, both in agony. It' s deeply regrettable that I could not be at their bedsides when they died.

Encouraging myself to live with hope

In March, 1947, I had a pain in my ribs, so I went to see Dr. Nakayama. I was diagnosed as spinal caries. While I was taking care of myself at home, my condition became worse as no medicine was available in those days.

In February, 1966, my husband had an accident at work, canning factory in Shinonome-cho. He was hit hard on his abdomen and had the internal bleeding, due to the motor accident. He was sent to the hospital, and I attended him at his bedside. In the meantime my caries recurred and I was also hospitalized in the same Imanaka Hospital in ltsukaich-cho. His injury getting better, my husband took care of me. However, probably because of fatigue, he died of vesicular emphysema in April, 1972, worrying about my condition. I totally lost what I live for, but I' m trying to encourage myself to live positively.

In 1973, I entered this home thanks to the arrangement by the welfare office. Now, I am happy in this home, and living with gratitude to the staff members and residents for their kindness.

Written by Masako Kojima (60)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Kaminobori-cho, 1.1 km from the hypocenter
Acute symptoms in those days
No injury. Only a irregular menstruation.
The dead among my family
Father Kinzo Kaya and Mother Masako, both A-bombed.