Sumiteru Taniguchi Feb 2016014.jpg

epilogue

Nagasaki, Japan, 70 years on, atomic bomb survivors relive that day for anyone willing to listen, in the hopes that just maybe, we won't repeat the past.

 

 

Sumiteru Taniguchi

Sumiteru Taniguchi

He says that he felt no pain that day, not on his back atleast. The bomb burned him so badly that it took the nerve endings together with the skin and the flesh off his back. 

The doctors only gave him a few days to live,...but he would spend the next year laying on his stomach as his back healed.

It never did, not properly anyway,...

The healing caused swelling and keloid scars made his skin and body twist and contort. That, and a year laying on his front left his body horribly disfigured and in chronic discomfort.

Sumiteru Taniguchi

Sumiteru Taniguchi

To the day that I first met him, 70 years later, his wife would apply ointments to his wounds and sores daily.

Me: what's been on your mind recently?

Him: whether my wife will make it out of hospital.

She didn't.

Sumiteru Taniguchi

Sumiteru Taniguchi

He leaned back and lay his head on the back of the chair,... his back never touched the chair.

He still goes to the office everyday, working to help people understand just what war is about.

I want to say "tirelessly working..."

But you see him getting tired, grimacing with every little movement, his reserves draining. 

Michiaki Ikeda

Michiaki Ikeda

He had been playing with his friend on the roof of the Nagasaki university hospital all morning. Luckily, just before 11:02 he had decided to go back down and so was protected by being inside the heavy concrete building.

"I cried out for my friend,...and through the blackness, somehow, we found each other."

Michiaki Ikeda

Michiaki Ikeda

"My mother had her back to the windows so when I found her, her back was covering in blood from all the flying glass,...but she was alive"

"My friend lost everyone,...a few days later, when the medical teams from other cities made it to Nagasaki, a nurse that looked after him adopted him and took him back to her town. 

"I tried to find him after, I heard stories from people who say they knew him, but I never heard from him again".

Some people, some how, get up and carry on and move forward and rebuild,....

Some people don't. 

Shouhei Tsuiki

Shouhei Tsuiki

He was 19 that day,... He had just worked the night shift and was under his futon asleep. Yes it was summer, he says, and it was hot, but we did that to protect against flying glass in case we were bombed. My left hand was out, that's why it got burned.

"They were all covered in blood, everyone,... It was from all the flying glass."

Shouhei Tsuiki

Shouhei Tsuiki

"Water,...they all asked for water,... So I went and got them water,...one by one, and one by one they would drink and then they would die,... There were many more, but after a while, I just gave up, there were too many."

Tsukasa Uchida

Tsukasa Uchida

Talking about his friend with whom he was meant to have lunch with that day "His eye had popped out, it was burned and it was stuck to his cheek"

" I wanted to comfort him so I went to touch his shoulder,...but his skin stuck to my hand, it came off and I could see his veins and muscles"

Uchida has spent his life collecting and preserving remains and artifacts from that day. This includes fighting against the demolition of one of the few buildings that survived the atomic bomb, Shiroyama elementary school. 

He says that he worries,... He worries that if we don't preserve these things,...future generations will forget,...

And he is right to worry.

Sakue Shimohira

Sakue Shimohira

I found one sister's body,... I wanted to move her but I couldn't so I called out for help.

"If she belongs to you, you move her" someone said.

I was ten years old.

A few years after the bomb, there were many suicides, I wanted to jump in front of a train, but I didn't have the courage to. 

My sister did.

Shimohira continues to speak to children, more about the ravages of war than the bomb itself.

"We should be the last survivors. When I die, there should be no more."