“I Survived in Hiroshima” Part 1 by Chieko Kiriake

My experience of the atomic bombing
October 28th, 2017, Human Rights Club members were listening to her experience at the Mitaki Nature House.

August 6th, 1945

At that time, I worked hard at a cigarette factory called the Hiroshima Monopoly Bureau due to student mobilization. I was covered in tobacco dust. One student complained by saying, “Working in a tobacco factory won’t help you in the war. Why can’t we go to a place to build airplanes, bullets, submarines, and things like that?" Then, the teacher said, “Cigarattes are also important for the military". When the soldiers are fighting and get tired on the battlefield, they can be recover their energy by smoking cigarettes.

So you must work with all your heart. I understood it and got to work while being covered in tobacco dust.
Then, August 6th arrived. My leg was in pain because I on my feet all day working. There was a doctor of internal medicine in the factory’s medical office, and he said “You have arthritis, so you should go to see a surgeon. I will write a letter of introduction to the surgeon for you."

On that day, I had two hours off in the morning. I think it was just 8 o’clock. I left the factory and walked up the Kyobashi River to reach a bridge called Hijiyama Bridge. It was a hot day. Blazing hot. I was drenched in sweat and moved under the eaves of a small wooden warehouse to wipe off the sweat in the shade before crossing the bridge… It flashed and it was as if the sun had fallen right in front of me. It was a tremendous flash of light.

At the moment a great blast cam that slammed me to the ground and I fainted. I don’t know how long I was unconscious, but when I came to my senses, there were so many heavy things on my body that I couldn’t move. I thought the bomb had fallen right next to me, and I shouted “Help me!!" But it was quiet around there and nobody came to help me. I felt I couldn’t go on like this, so I crawled forward as hard as I could, pushing up the lumber that was holding me down.

I saw a bright gap and was able to escape through it. When I got out, the sunny weather had turned into pitch black. I couldn’t see anything, like at night. I didn’t know what was going on, so I stood still in the darkness for a while. Then it became a little brighter and I could see the area around me. When I looked back at the road I had just come from, the houses on both sides of the road were demolished, as if they had been hit by a major earthquake. There was a hospital on the other side of Hijiyama Bridge, which I was about to cross. When I saw the other side of the river, the ground was burning with red flames.

It was such a huge fire with big black smoke swirling above it. I didn’t know what to do anymore, so I stood at the foot of the bridge in a daze. I was at the eastern side of the bridge, and many people came running across the bridge screaming. The clothes they were wearing were burning fiercely. I think many were boys in the first and second grades of junior high school. They wore school unforms and those were burning. But without trying to put out the fire, they ran away screaming.

Many people fled to the south toward Ujina, burning and crying in front of me. The Ujina area was not on fire, so they all ran for it. I was so confused about what to do, and I thought that there would be teachers and classmates in the tobacco factory, so I decided to return. However, the houses on both sides of the road had collapsed, blocking the road completely. When I finally made it back to the tobacco factory after climbing over the collapsed walls and roofs, I found no one there.
Everyone had already evacuated and were no longer there.
I was standing there in front of the collapsed factory wondering what I should do next, when one of my classmates crawled out of it.

Heading for School with My Classmate

It was my classmate, Ms. Nasu.
She is the eldest sister of Masamoto Nasu, an author of children’s literature. As you may know, Masamoto Nasu wrote a series of books for children called “The Zukkoke Threesome". He is also the author of “The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima – in Photos". Nasu’s older sister looked at me and asked for help. Blood was flowing from her forehead. I didn’t know what should I did when she asked me for help. I wanted to help her somehow, so I was desperately looking for something to stop the bleeding. Then I noticed that I was carrying a first-aid bag on my shoulder.

At that time, when we walked around town, we had a first-aid bag on our right shoulder, a hand-sewn shoulder bag that my mother sewed for me. We put things like bandages, triangular bandages, and medicine for burns and wounds in there. There was a rule that in case you were injured in an air raid, you had to carry something that you could use to take care of yourself. Female students during the war kept the bag on their right during student mobilization. And I had a hood to protect my head from air raids on my left shoulder, called a “Boku-zukin". It looked like a cotton cushion folded in half, worn as a helmet to protect my head in case of an air raid.

There was the rule that you had to walk around with a piece of it rolled up and hanging on a string. I was walking to the hospital wearing a first-aid bag and the air-raid hood. When I was crawling out from under a wooden warehouse that had collapsed at the foot of the bridge, my air-raid hood was cut off and I lost it.
But, I still had the first-aid bag. My mother took apart the obi (sash) of her traditional Japanese clothes that she treasured, thinking that she would never wear it again. The bag she made for me was sewn with a thick durable cotton fabric called the obi-core inside the obi.

It had a thick shoulder strap with many stitches, so I stayed on easily, and I didn’t lose it. I took out a triangular bandage, which is a square cloth like a “furoshiki" from the bag and I folded it into a long strip and tied it around Ms. Nasu’s forehead to stop the bleeding. I had a towel in my bag, so I wiped her bloody face with it. Then, she said to me, “You are slso injured". Ms.Nasu pulled out broken glass from my body. Then, I felt the pain for the first time, and I realized that I was also injured.

At that time, there was a medicine called “Akachin" which looked like bright red ink. After pulling out the glass put of my head, Ms. Nasu poured it over the wound. . When I looked toward the port of Ujina, I saw that there was no fire there. “Ujina is safe". “Our school is safe". As we were talking about when we should go back to school, a cigarette factory worker said to me “You are students, aren’t you?" We answered,"That’s right." The worker said “Get out of here now". “The warehouse is on fire."

The work clothes we wore were the same as the ones worn by ordinary workers. Since the workers were already adults, they wore waist-length jackets like a jumper and trousers on their lower body. We were wearing “Monpe", which is work pants for women on our lower body. “Monpe" is made with “Kasuri", a kind of cotton cloth that my parents sewed for me, and the top was my uniform. When we entered the factory, we took off our uniform and put on those work clothes. The khaki-colored work clothes were made with a very thick cotton fabric that looked like a military uniform. I think the fact that I was wearing such clothes protected my body from getting too hurt. When worn by adults, the jacket goes to the waist, but when we wore it, it went down to the knees like a dress. So it was obvious that we were students, and they didn’t have to look us in the face to know this.

So I asked “Where did everyone go?" “I don’t know." Of course. We tried to go back to school, but the road was blocked. The houses on both sides of the road had collapsed, and the road was filled with a lot of tiles and glass and other things like that. I said “Let’s go back to school," and we started walking, but on the way, Ms. Nasu said, “I can’t walk anymore." Her face was turning blue. I think she felt sick because she had had lost a lot of blood. So she said, “I’ll stay here; you just go back to school." I encouraged her saying, “We can’t stay here, because it’s too dangerous. Any way let’s go back to school. Don’t give up."

I was only just over 140 cm, and she was also short like me, so we crawled back toward the schoolwith me carrying her on my back. At last, we arrved at our school.

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