22. Left Alone, Having Lost My Daughter

I was stunned

My family, three of us, was living in Matoba-cho since 1943. My husband, who was working for Toyo Cotton Spinning Company, was transferred to the Shinkyo branch in Manchuria and gone in 1944, leaving the family behind. My daughter and I looked after the house during my husband' s absence. My daughter, Shizuko was graduated from Kotani Girl' s Middle School and stayed home beside me. My daughter was learning flower arrangement and tea ceremony.

On August 6, my daughter left for my husband' s parents' home in Tokaichi-machi to do some errands for me. After that the precautionary alarm was sounded. Soon the air-raid warning followed, but about ten minutes later all clear was announced. When I went upstairs to dry the laundry, I heard the precautionary alarm again. I saw one B-29 flying from the east toward the west in the skies. As I was frightened and scared at the sight of it, I was going downstairs.

When half way down, I heard a deafening roaring sound. That moment, the second floor collapsed and the walls fell down. I thought I was bombed and got out of the house immediately. I cried out for help to the neighbors, but I recognized the houses in my neighborhood were also flattened. I fled to Danbara, the direction to Hijimaya Hill, along with many other sufferers, whose skins were peeled off, hanging just like rags. I dropped in one of my acquaintances in Danbara and took a rest until around noon. I got rested and calm down, but I was worried very much about my daughter. When I talked about going home to look for my daughter, I was topped. They said the whole city beyond the northern part of Danbara-ohata-cho was a sea of fire. However, I couldn' t sit and wait, so decided to go back to my house.

My house was totally burned out. All neighboring houses were reduced to ashes, too. Only the Hiroshima Station was seen standing out in the burnt-out city. I was absent-minded and didn' t move the place for a long time. I don' t remember how many hours. I just didn' t know what to do, and the thought of my daughter came to my mind. Wondering if she was alive, how she was doing, I was, not knowingly, heading for my husband' s parents' home, Tokaichi.

I got there only to find the house burned out. I almost went crazy with anxieties about my daughter and relatives. I lost my place to live in, so I returned to Matoba-cho together with my neighbors, and we built shacks with gathered materials such as poles, boards, tin sheets, rooftiles, etc. which we picked up out of the ruins. I was worried so much about my daughter and relatives that I went to Tokaichi again. There, from a neighbor, I got information that the residents in this town had taken refuge in Kabe-cho, Asa-gun. Immediately, I went to visit several makeshift relief stations in Kabe-cho. On the twelfth day, I finally found my daughter. She had been taken to a temple in Kabe-cho. She had serious burns on half of her face and on both legs. It was very painful to see, but I was filled with joy of reunion after such difficulties in finding her.

My daughter' s story

She told her story in agony. That morning, she left home in Matoba-cho and took a tramcar. It was 8:15 a.m. when she was about to open the door at the entrance of my husband' s parents' house. The moment an enormous sound and flash came, she fell down. Being helped by neighbors, she was taken to that relief station in Kabe. She talked and talked in tears how much she had been worried about me and about other relatives. She asked me to take her back, so I consulted a doctor there. The doctor advised that she' d better stay there some more time for treatments, but she insisted. So, I took her, on a truck, to my younger brother' s barrack in Tokaichi-machi. She might have been relieved, her condition only deteriorated. She died the following day at the age of 22 without seeing a doctor. Her body was cremated with other corpses in the park of Tokaichi-machi. I feel it a pity that my daughter passed away without having a chance to wear a wedding gown.

Alone, finally

After losing my daughter, I went back to my hometown in Yamaguchi prefecture to start a new life with my mother. We lived in a country house in Takeshima, which was owned by my uncle. In July 1946, my husband returned from Manchuria, but he had been through a lot of difficulties, both mentally and physically. He was suffering from malnutrition and passed away two years later in spite of the medical treatments. I was finally left alone. I didn' t feel comfortable staying long at my uncle' s house, so I left Takeshima and went to stay for a while at my brother' s house in Tokaichi-machi.

My brother came to know about this nursing home, which he was told a good place to live in. Then he made all the necessary formalities done for me. I am very happy here. I believe in Buddhism, therefore I have no complaints and no worries. However I still have a grudge about the A-bombing which took away my husband, my daughter and fifteen of my relatives. I pray that such horrible nuclear weapons will never be used again and peace will last.

Written by Mitsuko Hamano (84)

The place of my A-bomb exposure
Inside the house in Matoba-cho, 1.7 km from the hypocenter

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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