International Peace Pilgrimage
Why We Walk!
Hiroshima Survivor
OIWA, Kouhei
Mitaka-City, Tokyo
My Experience of the Atomic Bombing and Appeal for a World without Nuclear Weapons
   My Experience of the Atomic Bombing and Appeal for a World without Nuclear Weapons

   Every year, when the mid-summer sun starts blazing, I start feeling gloomy and depressed.

   The tragedy happened on the day when I was falsely thinking that Hiroshima was a safe place that wouldn't be bombed. At 8:15 on August 6,1945, a single atomic bomb exploded at a height of 500 meters. I was in my first year of junior high and was 13 years old. That year, summer vacation was cancelled. Instead, I was mobilized to demolish some buildings, which were obstacles for the construction of a military road. On that day, it had been very muggy since early in the morning. I felt sick in the morning and told my mother so. She told me to take the day off as I would not be able to work on such a hot day. She prepared a bed for me in the room facing the garden. I lay there and was talking with her while she was working in the corridor nearby.

   Then, a strong light shone on us. It was as if the sun were dropped on us. I thought, "Is that a flare-bomb? In the morning? How odd!" However, I actually had no idea what had happened. A while later, when I came to, I found that I had covered my head completely with the summer comforter and rolled over to the opposite side of the room. My mother had fallen over and was pressed under a fallen sliding door. When I looked around, I saw all the windows had shattered into pieces and the pillars were broken. I also saw the ceilings had bent due to the pressure of the blast. The tiled roof had blown away, so I could see the sky from inside. Fragments of glass were scattered all over and piled up at least about 3 centimeters on the tatami mat. Thanks to the summer comforter, I just had three injuries on my arms. The fallen sliding door luckily protected my mother from the pieces of glass, but she was still bleeding from her head.

   Then my cousin, who had been playing outside, rushed into our house. It seemed that he was neither inflamed nor injured. My grandmother in the back room was also safe. We went out without knowing what had really happened. We found all the other houses had collapsed like ours. The bombs did not hit us directly, but we were unable to figure out the cause, which made us feel uneasy. About two hours later, we saw a strange crowd of people tottering towards us from the westerly direction of Mt. Hiji, 500 meters from our house.

   Having come closer to our house, those people might have assumed that they had finally reached a safe place, which had not burnt yet. Then they started falling down one after another. Their shapes and appearances were horribly deformed and no word could depict how they really looked. Their clothes were burnt and tattered. Skin was slipping from their almost naked bodies. Their half-raised their arms were in front of them as if they were ghosts; if their arms were down, the skin might stick to their bodies and hurt them. Skin was slipping from their arms, too. Their faces were scorched, and their hair was frizzled or had fallen out. Their heads and faces were just like black masses. Some people were holding eyeballs that had fallen out. It seemed that hell was taking over the earth.

   At noon, the roads around my house were filled with these wounded people. The air was also filled with the smell of burnt flesh. I heard their moaning from all around. Before long, a number of people passed away in front of my eyes. At the age of thirteen, it was the first time for me to confront another's death.

   Shortly after, my mother, my cousin and I took shelter, carrying an emergency backpack, in a vineyard roughly seven or eight kilometers east from our house, as we thought that staying at our house would further endanger our lives. My grandmother insisted on staying, so we left her behind.

   On the way to the vineyard, the road was filled with burnt and inflamed people falling down all over. Some were groaning: some were asking for water. Others were clinging to my legs for help. I dodged them and stepped over their bodies. There was nothing I could do except cry and run away from them.

   Even now, I never recall that day without being disturbed by a sense of guilt: I discarded them and ran away. I was, indeed, in insane circumstances. But still, I always wonder how I kept my sanity.

   Fortunately, my father was away on a business trip that day. However, my grandmother and my younger cousin died in succession at the end of the year due to the effects of the radiation. They were fine at first. Perhaps they just did not have enough resistance to it. My mother and I, on the other hand, suffered from our hair falling out and gum-bleeding since a few days after the atomic bombing. Also, our wounds started forming pus and did not heal for about two months.

   It has been sixty years since Hiroshima was bombed. Even now, the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki live on. Some are still unable to talk about themselves as Hibakusha to their families. They secretly suffer and are terrified about the possibility that the effects of the radiation could be manifested in their children and grandchildren. They do not only hide emotional scars but they also hide keloids and cuts they suffered as a child. Having been seized by cancer several decades later, some continue their lives under medical treatment. Others died, regretfully, of an atomic-related disease without attaining their aims or ambitions. Thus, around me, there are a number of people who are still suffering in the aftermath of the bombing.

   Atomic bombs are dreadful not only because of the effect at that time but also because of the influence of radioactivity, which remains for decades and even centuries later.

   The world, especially the United States, is moving towards the miniaturization of nuclear weapons for practical use. But we must prevent this behavior as it will simply lead to selfdestructive consequences for all of us.

   The number of Hibakusha is decreasing. The first generation of Hibakusha will pass away soon. However, people all over the world must remember that nuclear weapons are "evil" weapons.


(Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations)
Address: Gable Bldg. #902, 1-3-5 Shiba Daimon, Minato-ku
Tokyo 105-0012, JAPAN
Phone: +81-3-3438-1897 Fax: +81-3-3431-2113
Web site:

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