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International Reflective Writing


Matsuo Basho

War and Anti-War Haiku

Basho was probably born in 1644 in Iga Province outside of Kyoto, Japan. His father was probably a poor samurai-farmer. As a teenager, Basho entered the service of the local lord, acting as a page. The young lord was only a couple of years older than Basho, and the two became friends, enjoying the playful exchange of haiku verses.

When Basho was a young man, his friend and lord died and the lord's brother took over the clan. In reaction, Basho left home, abandoned his samurai status, and took to a life of wandering. After several years, he settled in Edo (Tokyo), continuing to write and publish poetry. His haiku began to gain notariety. Students began to gather around Basho. At about this time, Basho also started to practice Zen meditation.

Basho remained restless, even in his fame. A neighborhood fire claimed his small house in Edo leaving him homeless, and Basho once again took up the itinerant life, visiting friends and disciples, taking up residence for brief periods only to begin another journey. It was during this time that Basho composed some of his greatest, most natural haiku. Basho returned to Edo in 1691 and died there in 1694.

A banana plant in the autumn gale
by Matsuo Basho

Original Language Japanese

A banana plant in the autumn gale --
I listen to the dripping of rain
Into a basin at night.

Basho took his name from the Japanese word for "banana tree." He was given a gift of a banana tree by a student and the poet immediately identified with it: the way the small tree just stood there with its large, soft, fragile leaves. So, in this haiku, when Basho writes of "A banana plant in the autumn gale" he is writing about himself, so open to everything amidst the harsh, swirling activity of the world around him. Then the next two lines switch to an internal awareness, the quiet "dripping of rain." Despite the torrent outside, Basho is in meditation, patiently observing the gathering of the raindrops "into a basin."   --- Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

More Haiku Poems by Basho

Summer grasses
all that remains of great soldiers'
imperial dreams

The whole country devastated,
only mountains and rivers remain.
In springtime at the ruined capital,
the grass is always green.

Journey's end--
st alive,
this autumn evening.

Where is the moon?
the temple bell is sunk
at the bottom of the sea



Hibakusha is the name given to the survivors of the 1945 nuclear bombings. It literally translates to ‘explosion effected people’. Two categories of Hibakusha are recognised by Japanese authorities, those who were in or around the hypo-centre of the blasts, or those who were born to the survivors.

The Story of Akira Nagasaka

A-bomb survivors' post-war experiences must be passed on to truly grasp tragedy's scale
By Kenji Tamaki, expert senior writer

The task of passing on the personal experiences of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing victims to the future looks like it's going to get a whole new dimension as testimonials and research resources go digital. It may even be possible to recreate these experiences with realistic digital simulations. However, what has happened to the survivors in the many years since the bombs were dropped? What paths have they taken from then to now? While there are plenty of records for the history of activism or organizations in that time, materials that can attest to the lives, thoughts and feelings of the atomic bombing survivors tend to be overlooked, lost from sight. There is a great blank in the history since the bombings.

One reason for this is that the United States sealed all the descriptions, photos and films related to the bombings they collected during the occupation. Second, Japanese tended to be cold and biased toward A-bomb survivors. If these facts are not also passed on to posterity, then we will never get a grasp on the bombs' true destructive power.

I am reminded of Akira Nagasaka.

Along with reconstruction, the end of the war also brought many A-bomb survivors to Tokyo. Survivors who would speak out, however, were rare, as they faced discrimination from their fellow Japanese. Even so, an appeal was made to bomb survivors in Tokyo and mutual support activities were started. One of those to make that appeal was Nagasaka, himself a Nagasaki A-bomb survivor. Nagasaka survived when the city was destroyed. His family, who lived close to ground zero, did not.

After the war, he moved to Tokyo and became a teacher, but his willingness to talk about the horror of the bombing earned him the enmity of some of his co-workers. When he arrived at a new school in 1951 and wrote in his staff self-introduction that he hoped there would never again be a nuclear bombing, a more senior teacher told him he was being foolish and asked him to change it. Why? "Because it looks anti-American," his co-worker told him.

The Allied occupation ended in 1952, but the attitude Nagasaka had confronted at school did not really change until 1954, when a Japanese fishing boat was caught in a cloud of atomic dust from a U.S. hydrogen bomb test on the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific -- the so-called "Daigo Fukuryu Maru Incident." People finally understood the terror of nuclear war, and the anti-nuclear movement began to grow. Activism calling for relief for atomic bombing survivors also finally got up to full speed.

The "Genbaku Hisaisha no Kai" (nuclear victims' association) was founded in Tokyo in 1956, and a survey of survivors administered by the group remains. The survey showed that 56.4 percent of the survivors wanted to be left in peace by society, but only 5.5 percent were happy to see the growth of the anti-nuclear and relief for A-bomb survivor movements. These figures are testament to the isolation, despair and anxiety experienced by the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There was also a dark side to surviving the blasts, which is something else the survivors could speak a lot about.

On the day the bomb fell on Nagasaki, Nagasaka went down to the area around the epicenter. Wounded people begged him for water, and one woman, lying face down with terrible burns, asked him to take her to help. But Nagasaka left her there, saying nothing. Nagasaka said that at the time he could think of nothing but finding his family, but he regretted abandoning the woman for the rest of his life. Every time he recalled it, he talked in a tearful voice.

Nagasaka, long in poor shape and battling illness, passed away in 1994 at the age of 66. His wife gave out stainless steel water bottles to commemorate his passing, apparently to carry on that experience.

I received one of the bottles. After 16 years, it's worn out now. But I have quenched the thirst of many a person with it, and I'm sure that's what Nagasaka would have wanted.

Source: Mainichi Times

The Story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Tsutomu Yamaguchi witnessed at close hand the nuclear devastation of two Japanese cities, and lived to tell the tale. Now it will be left to others to tell his incredible story after his death at 93.

Yamaguchi, the only person officially recognised as a survivor of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, died on January 6, 2010, of stomach cancer at a hospital in Nagasaki, his family said today.

The mayor of Nagasaki said "a precious storyteller has been lost".

Yamaguchi, then an engineer for the shipbuilder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was in Hiroshima on a business trip on 6 August 1945 when an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, dropped an atomic bomb on the city, killing 80,000 people instantly and another 60,000 in the months that followed. The badly burned Yamaguchi, who was less than two miles from the blast, spent the night in an air raid shelter before returning home to Nagasaki, 180 miles away, two days later.

He was in Nagasaki on 9 August when a nuclear bomb devastated the city, killing an estimated 70,000 people. Japan surrendered less than a week later.

He, his wife and baby son survived and spent the following week in a shelter.

After the war Yamaguchi worked as a translator for the US forces in Nagasaki and later became a teacher. He did not speak publicly about his past until the death in 2005 of his second son – who was six months old at the time of the Nagasaki bombing – from cancer, aged 59.

"My double radiation exposure is now an official government record," he told the Mainichi newspaper last year. "It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die. I could have died on either of those two days. Everything that follows is a bonus."

In recent years he talked openly about life as a double A-bomb survivor and became a vocal supporter of nuclear disarmament. He wrote books and songs about his experiences, and in 2006 made a speech at the UN in New York to mark the release of Niju Hibaku (Double Irradiation), a documentary about him and other people who had lived through both nuclear attacks.

Although 165 people are known to have lived through both attacks, Yamaguchi is the only one to have been officially recognised as a survivor twice over.

"Having experienced atomic bombings twice and survived, it is my destiny to talk about it," he told the UN.

He was visited in hospital by the film director James Cameron, who is considering making a film about the bombings.

Yamaguchi's copy of the Atomic Bomb Victim Health Handbook, issued in 1957, entitled him and 260,000 other survivors to monthly allowances, free medical checkups and funeral costs.

Although the handbook confirmed he was within a three-kilometre radius of ground zero in both cities, reference to Hiroshima was deleted when he renewed it at Nagasaki city hall in 1960.

After refusing to grant him special double-survivor status because it would not affect his entitlements, officials relented, making him the first and so far only survivor of both attacks to be recognised by the authorities.

The blasts deprived him of the hearing in his left ear, but Yamaguchi's family said he was in relatively good health for most of his life. In later years he battled acute leukaemia, cataracts and other radiation-related ailments.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi's Poetry: ATanka*
*Tanka is a Japanese Poetry Form which like haiku, has a specific rhythmic structure

Carbonized bodies face-down in the nuclear wasteland
all the Buddhas died,
and never heard what killed them.
Thinking of myself as a phoenix,
cling on until now.

But how painful they have been,
those twenty-four years past.

If there exists a GOD who protects
nuclear-free eternal peace
the blue earth won't perish.

Source: The Guardian UK:

A source to consult on the writing of Tsutomu Yamaguchi

Diehl, Chad. And the River Flowed as a Raft of Corpses: The Poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu, Survivor of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With a foreword by Donald Keene. (New York: Excogitating Over Coffee Publishing, 2010).

Chad Diehl, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, introduces Raft of Corpses as the first official translation of the tanka poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (1916-2010), a survivor of both atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Chad lived with Yamaguchi in Nagasaki during the summer of 2009 to gain insight and instruction in order to create the most accurate translations possible. Chad includes in the book a lengthy introductory essay about Yamaguchi's experience to provide essential context for the poems, and he has also written a preface in Japanese for Japanese readers.

“I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me to Nagasaki,” Yamaguchi recalled decades after the bombings as he tried to explain his incredulity at the terrifying déjà vu. Yamaguchi’s testimony of those days and subsequent years living with the physical and psychological trauma characterize the theme of his poems translated in Raft of Corpses. The paradox of surviving two atomic bombs to live on for six decades stirs in the readers of Yamaguchi's tanka poems simultaneous feelings of awe, disbelief, horror, sympathy, and hope.

The poetry included in Raft of Corpses “passes the baton” carried by Yamaguchi to relay the experience of the atomic bombings and spread a message of the importance of world peace and the necessity to abolish nuclear weapons. In that spirit, Chad has selected and translated a total of sixty-five of Yamaguchi's tanka poems to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the bombings this year (2010). The book also includes numerous photographs and images of Yamaguchi's hand-written poems and calligraphy. Some of Yamaguchi's paintings add an additional layer to the book, and Chad hopes that the many poems included that do not address the bombings will provide readers with a better understanding of Yamaguchi's life and personality.

Donald Keene, Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, writes in the foreword, “Chad Diehl has translated some of Mr. Yamaguchi's poems. The translations transmit the horror of the two terrible explosions and the disfigured dead. He has kept as close to the originals as possible, but remembering Mr. Yamaguchi's fondness for rhymed poetry, he has effectively used rhyme in some of the translations. It could not have been easy to translate these poems, but Mr. Diehl, who knew Mr. Yamaguchi well, felt impelled to make these translations, the most fitting tribute to his memory.”



The Story of Yoshio Sato

On August 6, 1945, I was exposed to the atomic bomb at just one kilometer away from ground zero in Hiroshima.

Recovering consciousness, I found myself confined in a dark, narrow gap in the ruins of our timber house, which had collapsed. Fortunately, I was able to get out. I have never forgotten the scene I saw upon climbing out. All the houses as far as I could see were flattened to the ground.The sky was dim with smoke as if it were after sunset. Fire was breaking out two to three hundred meters ahead of me; all the houses had been built of wood. I thought that the city had been destroyed at once by a terribly large bomb.

Exposed to the blast and trapped under the ruins of our house were my 12 year-old brother, Hideo, and my mother who had been hanging washing out in the yard with my little sister, Masako, who was 5 years old. I was 14 at the time. My father had left Hiroshima on business early that morning. With much difficulty, I finally succeeded in rescuing my family from under the collapsed building. We fled from the house, driven away by the approaching fire. Blasts of intolerably hot wind blew continuously.

We jumped into a reservoir of stagnant water, which had been set up for the purpose of extinguishing fires during air raids, in order to cool our bodies. As soon as we came out from the water, out clothes were dried instantly by the intense heat caused by the fires. We had to jump into the water so often that dirty water entered our mouths and caused us to vomit. Surrounding fires forced us to stay in the air raid evacuation zone for several hours.

In Hiroshima many junior high school children who had been mobilised to demolish houses to create fire barriers, were killed by the atomic bomb. Shortly before the bomb fell, the 'all clear' siren had been sounded and people had come out of the shelters. The aircraft carrying the bomb had flown over the city and then gone away, leading those responsible for the air-raid sirens to think it had retreated. Only after the 'all clear' had sounded did it return. We have wondered whether this was deliberate US policy to get people out from shelters so that the effects of the atomic bomb could be tested: something the US military authorities, when asked, have neither confirmed or denied.

Toward evening, the fires and the wind nearly ceased. A rescue truck came by and picked us up. Several people were sitting in the truck. Some were almost naked and badly burned. The skin on their arms was peeling off and hanging down from their hands. More refugess were jammed onto the truck so tightly that they cried in pain when their peeling skin touched the skin of others.

The refugees were taken into army barracks on Kanawa Island in Hiroshima Bay.

A few days after the bombing, my father returned to Hiroshima and searched for his missing family. Lumps of molten glass bottles found in the ruins of our house almost made him believe that all his family had died. But he managed to find out where we had been taken and he suddenly appeared in front of us.

Almost no medicine was available for treating burns and wounds. A boy lying next to us had been burnt and was blistering badly on his face. There were maggots all over from his cheeks to his ears. He had nearly lost his sight. However, he received no treatment at all. A young mother, who was completely naked, was lying down, holding her already dead baby in her arms. She madly took off any clothing anybody tried to put on her. She seemed to have been driven crazy by the shock of the bombing and the death of her baby.

The war was over on August 15.

When I awoke one morning I found my hair falling out, and lots of hair stuck to my pillow. Clumps of hair would fall out every time I touched my head. It was beyond my understanding that this was caused by the radio-activity of the bomb. The four of us in my family, who had experienced the atom bomb lost our hair and nearly went bald.

At the end of August we were sent with high fever to the Red Cross Hospital in a small town about 100 km away from Hiroshima. My mother died on the morning of September 2, less than a month after the atomic bombing. My father told me later that he had been prepared for our funerals to come one after another.

By late autumn, the three of us seemed to be getting better. Our hair began to grow little by little though it was considerably thin. The hair looked thinner at the roots and thicker at the top, or top-heavy. It is to my great regret that I did not keep the hairs as evidence of 'Hiroshima'. In March 1946, sister Masako suddenly died, six months after the bombing.

In 1971, I had half my stomach removed because of cancer. My brother, who had become a medical doctor, died of liver cancer in 1984, despite having had surgery twice. Now, I am the only survivor in my family. The death rate from cancer is clearly higher among those who were exposed to the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki than that of those who were not exposed.

Since my retirement as a chemist, I have devoted my life to speaking about the effects of the atomic bomb, going into schools and speaking abroad when I get the chance. I spoke in Vancouver, Canada, in 2001 right after the September 11 attack. After listening to my speech, a young student asked me, "Has the US apologised to you?" My answer was, "No". In May 2005 in New York, where I was taking part in a big peace parade to appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons, a lady came up to me and gave me a big kiss after she heard my story. She said, "I want to apologise to you."

Even now, there are about 30,000 nuclear bombs in the world. Nuclear weapons, if used, would produce enormous blasts, intense heat and release deadly radiation. The bomb radiation would not only cause victims cancer and other diseases, but would affect the health of their children.

As a survivor of the atomic bombing, I believe it is my mission to inform the people of the world, especially the yound people, of the horror of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons must never be used again and we must in no way allow the existence of nuclear weapons. I truly believe that the people of the world, by knowing and understanding each other, will be able to work together to abolish nuclear weapons and build a peaceful world.

No more war, no more nuclear weapons.


Hiroshima Panels (原爆の図, Genbaku no zu)

The Hiroshima panels are a series of fifteen painted folding panels by the collaborative husband and wife artists Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi. They were completed over a span of thirty-two years (1950-1982). The Panels depict the consequences of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as other nuclear disasters of the 20th century. Each panel stands 1.8 meters x 7.2 meters.

The paintings depict people wrenched by the violence and chaos of the atomic bombing; some wandering aimlessly, their bodies charred, while others are still being consumed by atomic fire. Dying lovers embrace and mothers cradling their dead children. Each painting portrays the inhumanity, brutality, and hopelessness of war, and the cruelty of bombing civilians. The people depicted in the paintings are not only Japanese citizens but also Korean residents and American POWs who suffered or died in the atomic bombings as well.

The Marukis tried to represent all those affected so as to make their cause an international one and above that one of universal importance to all human beings. The use of traditional Japanese black and white ink drawings, sumi-e, contrasted with the red of atomic fire produce an effect that is strikingly anti-war and anti-nuclear.

The panels also depict the accident of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru on the Bikini Atoll in 1954 which the Marukis believed showed the threat of a nuclear bomb even during peace time.

The 15 Hiroshima Panels:

I Ghosts (幽霊, Yūrei, 1950)
II Fire (火, Hi, 1950)
III Water (水, Mizu, 1950)
IV Rainbow (虹, Niji, 1951)
V Boys and Girls (少年少女, Shōnen shōjo, 1951)
VI Atomic Desert (原子野, Genshi-no, 1952)
VII Bamboo Thicket (竹やぶ, Takeyabu, 1954)
VIII Rescue (救出, Kyūshutsu, 1954)
IX Yaizu (焼津, Yaizu, 1955)
X Petition (暑名, Shomei, 1955)
XI Mother and Child (母子像, Boshi-zō, 1959)
XII Floating Lanterns (とうろう流し, ''Tōrō nagashi, 1969)
XIII Death of American Prisoners of War (米兵捕虜の死, Beihei-horyo no shi, 1971)
XIV Crows (からす, Karasu, 1972)
XV Nagasaki (長崎, Nagasaki, 1982)

Short prose-like poems written by the artists to further explain the subject of their visual work also accompany each painting.

In 1967, the Maruki Gallery for the Hiroshima Panels, was established in Higashi-Matsuyama, Saitama, Japan, as a permanent home for The Hiroshima Panels. The fifteenth panel, Nagasaki, is on permanent display at the Nagasaki International Cultural Hall. Also available for view at the Maruki Gallery are the Marukis' further collaborative paintings on Auschwitz, the Nanking massacre, the battle of Okinawa, Minamata, and their summary collaborative painting entitled Hell.

It was for these monumental works, along with their continued peace education efforts that the Marukis received a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995. The Hiroshima Panels have also been the subject of the 1987 Academy Award nominated documentary Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima. The Japanese composer Masao Ohki composed in 1953 his 5th Symphony. The first six panels that have been painted until then were turned into six movements.

Source: Wikipedia


Several of the Hiroshima Panels with Artists' Description

The Hiroshima Panels No. 1 GHOSTS, 1950

It was a procession of ghosts in an instant all clothing burned off of hands, faces. Breasts swelled. 

The purple blisters on the victims' soon burst and peeled off, hanging down like pieces of rags.

With hands lifted half up, the victims appeared as ghosts in procession.

 Dragging their ragged skin behind them exhausted, they fell down moaning in heaps and died, one after another.

At center of explosion, the temperature reached six thousand degrees.

 On a human shadow remaind on a stone step nearby.

 Could a body vaporize? 

Did it blow away? 

There is no one to tell what it was like at that moment. There were only burned, charred faces, no one could tell one from another .

 Voices weakened, they told their names but even they remained unrecognized. 

 An infant with an innocent face and delicate skin lay asleep. 

Was it saved in it's mother's tender breast?

 Oh,that even this one babe will awake to rise up again!

The Hiroshima Panels No. 2 FIRE, 1950

"PIKA,!" the blue-white light of the flash
the explosion--
the force--
the heat wave--

Never in heaven or on earth had humankind experienced this. In an instant everything burst into flames and even the ruins were ablaze. The dead silence of a vast desert broke. Some felt senseless under fallen debris, others desperately tried digging out. Everything was consumed by a crimson light. Glass shards pierced bellies, arms and legs were lost. People fell and were taken by the fire.

"Hurry! Get out,quick!" someone shouted.

"I can't!" came the mother's cry from beneath the heavy beams.

"Then, the child!" the other shouted.

"You must escape yourself! My child will be die with me. She would only be lost in the streets."

Helping hands were pushed away. And mother and child were devoured by a swift vermillion flame.

The Hiroshima Panels VIII 'RESCUE' 1954

The blaze was unceasing. People were searching for relatives and taking them home but on the way found them dying. Food was being rationed out to the long line. There a young woman clutching hardtack for her family fell over and died. Sister's mother- and father-in-law had hundreds of glass fragments piercing their whole bodies. Their ankles were swollen as thick as thighs. From our house we put them on a cart and pulled it to their oldest son's home in Kaita walking by the center of the blast.

It rained softly all day that day. It rained often in Hiroshima after the Bomb. It was midsummer but it seemed cold every day.

In tears she told us. She said "Mother,forgive me!", as she left her and ran.
Husband left wife, wife left husband, parent left child, child left parent.

Rescue--it came later.

The Hiroshima Panels IX 'Yaizu' 1955

It was 1945. For the first time in human history,the Atomic Bomb was dropped over Hiroshima. And dropped once more over Nagasaki. Then over Bikini Atoll--another first the Hydrogen Bomb was dropped. There a fishing boat called Lucky Dragon sailed. The death ashes fell all around, and half a year later Aikichi Kuboyama died in his home port of Yaizu.

Once, twice, three times-- Japanese fell victim to the Nuclear Age.

Afterword (May,1983)

And not only Japanese. Micronesians on nearby atolls all and all dusted in radioactive ash their reef utterly poisoned. Bikinians, assured their beloved homeland was safe to return to overjoyed! Then struck down by radiation disease, cancer, leukemia. And suffer still. Bikini and Yaizu! Partners by default!

The Hiroshima Panels X 'Petition'1956

Stop the Atomic Bomb! Stop the Hydrogen Bomb! Stop War!

In Tokyo's Suginami Ward, a petition begun by women spread all over Japan. Children, mothers, fathers, old people, workers of all kinds--everyone signed. For the first time, the people of Japan asserted themselves with a silent cry.

A voice that echoed throughout the land. A call for peace.

The Hiroshima Panels X1 'Petition'1959

Under the shattered structures amidst the excruciating flames. Parent left child, child left parent, husband left wife, wife left husband.

Nowhere to escape to. Figures fleeing in all directions. This was the Atomic Bomb. In the midst of this, how eerie--mothers' loving arms shielding their babies from death, dying themselves.

There were oh! so many.

The Hiroshima Panels X11 'Floating Lanterns'1968

On August sixth every year, the seven rivers of Hiroshima are filled with lanterns. Painted with the names of fathers, mothers, and sisters, they float on their way to the sea.

Almost there, pushed back flame snuffed out. Darkly coming back in pieces. Tossed by ocean waves. That time, years past, these same rivers were filled. With the corpses of those fathers, mothers and sisters.

 The Hiroshima Panels XV 'Nagasaki'1982

The target of Kokura covered by clouds, two B-29s on to Nagasaki. Chased by more clouds. Mitsubishi Steelworks skirting the town for the new target.

Drop it!

Just above Uragami Cathedral it exploded. Instantaneously annihilating the priests and believers and all. The cathedral at the center. Endless concentric halo-like circles of dead human beings.

In Nagasaki it was a plutonium bomb. Stronger than the one in Hiroshima. Nagasaki in ruins, 140,000 killed.

One more Atomic Bomb.

Artists' Statement

Picture: Iri Maruki (1901-1995) and Toshi Maruki (1912-2000)

We lost our uncle to the Atomic Bomb and our two young nieces were killed; our younger sister suffered burns and our father died after six months; many friends perished.

Iri left Tokyo for Hiroshima on the first train from Tokyo, three days after the Bomb was dropped. Toshi followed a few days later.

Two kilometers from the center of the explosion, the family house was still standing. But the roof and roof tiles were mostly gone, windows had been blown out, and even the pans, dishes, and chopsticks had been blasted out of their places in the kitchen. 

In what was left of the burned structure, rescued bomb victims were gathered together and lay on the floor from wall to wall until it was full.

We carried the injured, cremated the dead, searched for food, and found scorched sheets of tin to patch the roof. 

With the stench of death and the flies and the maggots all around us, we wandered about in the same manner as those who had experienced the Bomb.

In the biginning of September, back in Tokyo, we heard for certain that the war had ended. In Hiroshima, we hadn't known. It had never entered our minds--at that time, we couldn't think beyond what we were seeing and doing.

 Three years passed before we began to paint what we had seen. We began to paint our own nude bodies to bring back the images of that time, and others come to pose for us because we were painting the Atomic Bomb.

We thought about a 17-year-old girl having had a 17-year life span, and 3-year-old child having had a life of three years.

Nine hundreds sketches were merged together to create the first paintings. We thought we ha painted a tremendous number of people, but there were 260,000 people who died in Hiroshima.

As we prayed for the blessing of the dead with a fervent hope that it never happen again, we realized that even if we sketched and painted all of our lives, we couldn't never paint them all.

One Atomic Bomb in one instant caused the deaths of more people than we could ever portray. Long-lasting radioactivity and radiation sickness are causing people to suffer and die even now. This was not a natural disaster.

As we painted, through our paintings..these thought came to run through and through our mind.

Iri Maruki, Toshi Maruki


The Story of Dr. Michihiko Hachiya

August 6, 1945 - the sun rose into a clear blue sky over the city of Hiroshima, Japan promising a warm and pleasant day. Nothing in the day's dawning indicated that this day would be any different from its predecessors. But this day would be different, very different.

On this day a single bomb dropped by a single airplane destroyed the city, leading to the end of World War II and introducing mankind to the Atomic Age.

Dr. Michihiko Hachiya lived through that day and kept a diary of his experience. He served as Director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital and lived near the hospital approximately a mile from the explosion's epicenter. His diary was published in English in 1955.

Suddenly, a strong flash of light...

"The hour was early; the morning still, warm, and beautiful. Shimmering leaves, reflecting sunlight from a cloudless sky, made a pleasant contrast with shadows in my garden as I gazed absently through wide-flung doors opening to the south.

Clad in drawers and undershirt, I was sprawled on the living room floor exhausted because I had just spent a sleepless night on duty as an air warden in my hospital.

Suddenly, a strong flash of light startled me - and then another. So well does one recall little things that I remember vividly how a stone lantern in the garden became brilliantly lit and I debated whether this light was caused by a magnesium flare or sparks from a passing trolley.

Garden shadows disappeared. The view where a moment before had been so bright and sunny was now dark and hazy. Through swirling dust I could barely discern a wooden column that had supported one comer of my house. It was leaning crazily and the roof sagged dangerously.

Moving instinctively, I tried to escape, but rubble and fallen timbers barred the way. By picking my way cautiously I managed to reach the roka [an outside hallway] and stepped down into my garden. A profound weakness overcame me, so I stopped to regain my strength. To my surprise I discovered that I was completely naked How odd! Where were my drawers and undershirt?

What had happened?

All over the right side of my body I was cut and bleeding. A large splinter was protruding from a mangled wound in my thigh, and something warm trickled into my mouth. My check was torn, I discovered as I felt it gingerly, with the lower lip laid wide open. Embedded in my neck was a sizable fragment of glass which I matter-of-factly dislodged, and with the detachment of one stunned and shocked I studied it and my blood-stained hand.

Where was my wife?

Suddenly thoroughly alarmed, I began to yell for her: 'Yaeko-san! Yaeko-san! Where are you?' Blood began to spurt. Had my carotid artery been cut? Would I bleed to death? Frightened and irrational, I called out again 'It's a five-hundred-ton bomb! Yaeko-san, where are you? A five- hundred-ton bomb has fallen!'

Yaeko-san, pale and frightened, her clothes torn and blood stained, emerged from the ruins of our house holding her elbow. Seeing her, I was reassured. My own panic assuaged, I tried to reassure her.

'We'll be all right,' I exclaimed. 'Only let's get out of here as fast as we can.'

She nodded, and I motioned for her to follow me."

It was all a nightmare...

Dr. Hachiya and his wife make there way to the street. As the homes around them collapse, they realize they must move on, and begin their journey to the hospital a few hundred yards away.

"We started out, but after twenty or thirty steps I had to stop. My breath became short, my heart pounded, and my legs gave way under me. An overpowering thirst seized me and I begged Yaeko-san to find me some water. But there was no water to be found. After a little my strength somewhat returned and we were able to go on.

I was still naked, and although I did not feel the least bit of shame, I was disturbed to realize that modesty had deserted me. On rounding a corner we came upon a soldier standing idly in the street. He had a towel draped across his shoulder, and I asked if he would give it to me to cover my nakedness. The soldier surrendered the towel quite willingly but said not a word. A little later I lost the towel, and Yaeko-san took off her apron and tied it around my loins.

Our progress towards the hospital was interminably slow, until finally, my legs, stiff from drying blood, refused to carry me farther. The strength, even the will, to go on deserted me, so I told my wife, who was almost as badly hurt as I, to go on alone. This she objected to, but there was no choice. She had to go ahead and try to find someone to come back for me.

Yaeko-san looked into my face for a moment, and then, without saying a word, turned away and began running towards the hospital. Once, she looked back and waved and in a moment she was swallowed up in the gloom. It was quite dark now, and with my wife gone, a feeling of dreadful loneliness overcame me.

I must have gone out of my head lying there in the road because the next thing I recall was discovering that the clot on my thigh had been dislodged and blood was again spurting from the wound.

I pressed my hand to the bleeding area and after a while the bleeding stopped and I felt better

Could I go on?

I tried. It was all a nightmare - my wounds, the darkness, the road ahead. My movements were ever so slow; only my mind was running at top speed.

In time I came to an open space where the houses had been removed to make a fire lane. Through the dim light I could make out ahead of me the hazy outlines of the Communications Bureau's big concrete building, and beyond it the hospital. My spirits rose because I knew that now someone would find me; and if I should die, at least my body would be found. I paused to rest. Gradually things around me came into focus. There were the shadowy forms of people, some of whom looked like walking ghosts. Others moved as though in pain, like scarecrows, their arms held out from their bodies with forearms and hands dangling. These people puzzled me until I suddenly realized that they had been burned and were holding their arms out to prevent the painful friction of raw surfaces rubbing together. A naked woman carrying a naked baby came into view. I averted my gaze. Perhaps they had been in the bath. But then I saw a naked man, and it occurred to me that, like myself, some strange thing had deprived them of their clothes. An old woman lay near me with an expression of suffering on her face; but she made no sound. Indeed, one thing was common to everyone I saw - complete silence.

All who could were moving in the direction of the hospital. I joined in the dismal parade when my strength was somewhat recovered, and at last reached the gates of the Communications Bureau."

Reference: Hachiya, Michihiko, Hiroshima Diary (1955)


Keiji Nakazawa

Keiji Nakazawa (中沢 啓治,1939- ) is a Japanese manga artist and writer. He was born in Hiroshima and was in the city when it was destroyed by an atomic bomb in 1945. All of his family members who had not been evacuated died in the bombing except for his mother, and an infant sister who died several weeks after the bombing. In 1961, Nakazawa moved to Tokyo to become a full-time cartoonist, and produced short pieces for manga anthologies such as Shōnen Gaho, Shōnen King, and Bokura.

Following the death of his mother in 1966, Nakazawa returned to his memories of the destruction of Hiroshima and began to express them in his stories. Kuroi Ame ni Utarete (Struck by Black Rain), the first of a series of five books, was a fictional story of Hiroshima survivors involved in the postwar black market. Nakazawa chose to portray his own experience directly in the 1972 story Ore wa Mita, published in Monthly Shōnen Jump. The story was translated into English and published as a one-shot comic book by Educomics as I Saw It.

Immediately after completing I Saw It, Nakazawa began his major work, Hadashi no Gen (Barefoot Gen). This series, which eventually filled ten volumes (six volumes in the English translation), was based on the same events as I Saw It but fictionalized, with the young Gen as a stand-in for the author. Barefoot Gen depicted the bombing and its aftermath in graphic detail but also turned a critical  on the militarization of Japanese society during World War II and on the sometimes abusive dynamics of the traditional family. Barefoot Gen was adapted into two animated films and a live action TV drama.




Barefoot Gen


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