Wednesday, January 6, 2010

R.I.P. 山口 彊 (Tsutomu Yamaguchi) - Double Atomic Bomb Survivor

山口様 (Honorable Mr. Yamaguchi) has crossed to the other side, according to the AP, succumbing to stomach cancer.

Can you imagine it? He was walking to his work when the first bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In
"When the noise and the blast had subsided I saw a huge mushroom-shaped pillar of fire rising up high into the sky. It was like a tornado, although it didn't move, but it rose and spread out horizontally at the top. There was prismatic light, which was changing in a complicated rhythm, like the patterns of a kaleidoscope. The first thing I did was to check that I still had my legs and whether I could move them. I thought, 'If I stay here, I'll die.' Two hundred yards ahead, there was a dug-out bomb shelter, and when I climbed in there were two young students sitting there. They said, 'You've been badly cut, you're seriously injured.' And it was then I realised I had a bad burn on half my face, and that my arms were burnt."
He and his two colleagues were from Nagasaki, but had been sent to Hiroshima for several months to complete a project in the shipyards. Yamaguchi had forgotten his 印鑑 (inkan) and had to run back to get it before saying goodbye to his Hiroshima colleagues. Just as he starts to walking, the above explosion. He and his two Nagasaki colleagues set-out to find survivors:
The three took a motor launch to try to find a way back into the city and to their lodgings. "From the boat we could see the city burning," said Mr Yamaguchi. "Every branch of the delta was burning. The sky was dark, so you could clearly see these pillars of flame. I thought that all of Hiroshima was finished." But it was only after they began the walk to their lodgings that they understood what this new kind of bomb had done. These are the scenes that every survivor remembers, the images that crawl through their dreams. To Mr Yamaguchi, there seemed to be children everywhere, some running, many limping along the side of the road. "They didn't cry," he said. "I saw no tears at all. Their hair was burnt, and they were completely naked. I saw so many of these children. Behind them, big fires burnt. Miyuki Bridge, next to our dormitory, was still standing, but all over it there were burnt people, children as well as adults, some of them dead, some of them on the verge of death. They were the ones who couldn't walk any more, who had just lain down. None of them spoke, none of them had the strength to say a word. It's funny that during that time, I didn't hear human speech, or shouts, just the sound of the city burning. Under the bridge there were many more bodies, bobbing in the water like blocks of wood."
The three of them returned to Nagasaki. Yamaguchi reported to work after having received some treatment for his burns. As he is telling his boss what has happened in Hiroshima, another.atomic.bomb.explodes.


It's an amazing story, Parry tells it well.

Hiroshima City University offers an amazing Peace Studies Summer Course for undergraduates as well as graduate students. The tuition is nearly negligible, about US$200, and includes a home stay.


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