Hibakusha Testimony Reflection: Furuya-san

On August 10th, the last testimony we received was given by Furuya-san who was three years old at the time of the A-bomb. She was with her parents and aunt at the time. Her story is interesting because her youth at the time likely greatly affected her reaction in comparison with those who were older. In my eyes, she described suffering but never seemed to have reacted very strongly herself. I believe this is not an uncommon way for people to react when faced with a tragedy so large. It almost feels natural to revert to a seemingly neutral reaction, perhaps to defend one’s mind. Of course, this is simply my speculation in response to Furuya-san’s story.

Furuya-san described the large flash and her getting launched about three meters from the blast. The building around them had also crumbled. Glass shattered from the window and cut her in many places, much of which still leave scars on her body today. She laid there still and did not cry from the pain. As a result, her parents thought she was dead. Perhaps she was in shock and could not find it within herself to cry. 

Her parents carried her and her injured aunt towards a hill with a shrine on it. They aimed to get there so they can drink from the water fountain located in the front. However, many victims were already there and the water fountain was completely destroyed. Just like what we’ve heard in other hibakusha testimonies, drinking water was known to cause burn victims to die. Furuya-san believes her parents did not know this. However, she believes that victims would die regardless of whether they drank water so they might as well drink it anyway. I find this perspective very interesting. 

What Furuya-san described next made her story especially unique. She described the way in which she played in certain areas of Hiroshima after the war. Despite the ruin, she still found ways in which to still be a child. I find it very reassuring that children do not need to always lose their playfulness in times of tragedy. After hearing many descriptions of bodies in the river, it is interesting to hear about Furuya-san playing in that very river post-war. I did not realize how quickly some citizens were able to find joy again. Her youth helped her in staying positive after the war.

Another interesting detail Furuya-san gave was the story of the shard of glass stuck in her  cheek. A comparatively large shard of glass stuck into her cheek from the initial blast but was not removed. Thirty years later, her friend was messing with her and pinching her cheek. Amazingly, a shard of glass came out of her cheek from this incident. She went to the doctor and he easily took it out. Once again, Furuya-san seems to have been very calm and even told us it did not hurt at all. I find this aspect of her story to be somewhat amusing in the way  she told it and a good indicator of her resilient attitude towards what happened to her and her family.

Decades later, Furuya-san worked for Ford and got to know many Americans. She told us she had felt hatred towards the U.S. when she was young but had come to accept Americans as fellow human beings later on. She felt welcomed by all except for a veteran she had met while at a work party. She learned that he still harbored resentment towards Japan for an attack he endured during WWII. She understands why he feels this way and hopes for people of different backgrounds to come to know each other as people and not enemies. 

Furuya-san overall hopes for increased communication and empathy between people in different countries. I agree that war causes us to dehumanize each other. Being able to talk and understand differences is key to fostering peace. Furuya-san closed by stating communication and nuclear disarmament are vital for humanity’s survival. I believe her beliefs are very notable and just. I am glad to have gotten to hear her story and I’m happy to see that she was able to thrive after August 6th, 1945.

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