Hibakusha Testimony Reflection: Tamiyuki-san

July 29th, the fourth hibakusha to speak with us was Tamiyuki-san. The most notable difference in his testimony was that it centered around his father. Tamiyuki-san was only two, if I remember correctly, and was evacuated to Saijo town before the bomb had dropped. His father, however, was only 500 meters from the hypocenter and was able to miraculously survive despite his odds. Tamiyuki-san’s father’s story was incredibly captivating as he fought his way out of Hiroshima on August 6th.

Tamiyuki-san’s father was working at a business close to the hypocenter. He had a small trifle with a coworker a few minutes before the bomb had dropped. He decided to end the argument and go to his desk because believed that angry conversations should be left for the end of the day. Because he had gone back to his desk, he was behind a large safe when the bomb dropped. His decision to not argue with his coworker that morning ended up saving his life. 

Only him and one other worker survived. They made their way east towards one of the rivers to escape. Because Tamiyuki-san’s father was horribly burned, he was incredibly weak and thirsty. When he made it to the river, he decided to get in it to cross. However, a soldier stopped him to inform him that those who go into the river always get carried off and die. So he was guided to head to the bridge instead. He attempted to drink the water in order to quench the unbearable thirst he felt but was once again stopped by a soldier. Those who drink the water all end up sick and die. He followed the advice and continued onward.

He had eventually tried to rest  and eat what I believe was scoops of rotting pumpkin in order to survive. However, Tmiyuki-san’s father vomited it back up immediately and felt even worse. He found out later that the food was radioactive and heavily contaminated. It is surprising that he survived after attempting to eat it. These consecutive miracles lead to him making it out to where Tamiyuki-san was. Tamiyuki-san describes his father to have been unrecognizable from his horribly charred body. He managed to survive and recover after making it to safety. Amazingly, the family was able to live somewhat peacefully due to Tamiyuki-san’s father’s hard work. He continued to work and send his children to school. It is incredible for somebody to endure a disaster of such magnitude and still live to support his family. It is hard to imagine how strong he must have been in order to do that.

Interestingly, Tamiyuki-san’s father never talked to them about his experience. However, decades later, Tamiyuki-san and his brother found an old newspaper article detailing their father’s story. Their father had already died at the point in which they found it and realized the magnitude of his survival. I had asked Tamikyuki-san why he believes his father never spoke to him about it. It seems he did not wish to express the painful memory towards his children. He perhaps found it unnecessary that they know. I find it incredibly interesting that Tamiyuki-san’s father only spoke once to the press so his story would be passed on but his children would not be exposed to it. I could never know exactly what had gone through his father’s head, but I suspect he simply wished to protect his children entirely from what happened.

Tamiyuki-san then told us the rules his father had made that aided his survival:

  1. Don’t argue with others about silly trifles
  2. Don’t panic when you face disaster
  3. You should accept the advice of others
  4. Do your best in all situations

These rules are now a part of Tamiyuki-san’s legacy. I hope to apply these rules when I can. I imagine Tamiyuki-san follows these rules as well. To follow up the story, Tamiyuki-san stated that the use of nuclear weapons is criminal. It is important that the atrocities that happened to his father are never repeated. This belief for Tamiyuki-san for nuclear disarmament is shared with the other hibakusha. With all of the different stories, the simple belief that Hiroshima’s tragedy must never be repeated endures. I believe it should be the wishes of the hibakusha that are what we remember the most from these testimonies.

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