My Father’s Retrospective

After the war (WW2), various people suggested to me on numerous occasions that I should write a record of my experience of the atomic bomb, but no matter how hard I persuaded myself, I could not commit myself to doing so. The next thing I knew, fifty years had gone by. There were no particular reasons why I could not do it, but thinking back, these might have been the causes why I wanted to shut the memories deep within myself:

1. I simply did not want to be reminded of the devastating disaster, something surely beyond description. Unknowingly, I must have been trying to erase the memory of the atomic bomb from my mind.

2. Dropping one atomic bomb is said to have killed three to four hundred thousand civilians in an instant. Even if the reason was simply because it was war, nobody has been required to take full responsibility for this tragedy; it has simply been justified. Today, the country that dropped the bomb leads humanitarian diplomacy and acts as though they have done nothing wrong in the past. I could not come to terms with this and accept this winner’s tyranny, though there was nothing that I could do and I suffered feelings of helplessness and vexation. The only thing I was able to do was to completely erase the memory of the atomic bomb.

3. The other reason comes from the sudden death of my younger sister, Yachiyo. On the eighth of August, two days after the atomic bomb was dropped, the whole Fukuyama City (*20) was destroyed by fire. While I lay suffering with high fever, my sweet five-year-old sister Yachiyo sat close to my mother beside my bedside, looking anxiously into my face. Two days later, on the dawn of the tenth of August, my sister fell sick with high fever and died, unable to get any help from a doctor in this totally destroyed city. I could not help but think that she had passed away in my place.

On June 1994, our siblings gathered to conduct Yachiyo’s memorial service (50 Kaiki, a memorial service carried out 49 years after death) at Daimyo-Ouin (Daimyo Royal Temple) (*21) in Koya-san (Mt. Koya, pronounced Kohya-san) (*22). It took me fifty years after the war, half a century, to finally sort out my feelings but finally I have come to a stage where I can write down what I have experienced.

There are many countries that hold atomic bombs in this world today, but there should never be another atomic bomb dropped nor should anyone repeat the same sort of erroneous decision that President Truman made in the past. I write this preface while praying for every single atomic bomb to immediately be eradicated from this world.

I have mentioned to some people that I had been hit by the atomic bomb, though it is only when I have been drinking. I usually finish my story by saying that I was cured by cucumbers and have never really spoken of my real nightmare.

If you read through my record, you will see that cucumber is an excellent treatment for burns. If you do get any burns at home, cut a few thin slices of cucumber about two millimeters thick. Apply directly onto the burn and cover it with bandage. It will cure without leaving any blister or scar. I truly believe that cucumber is an ultimate medicine for burns.

6 August 1994

Toyoyasu Kobatake

(*) Numbered locations can be found on the map.

Dad at 14 years of age

My father at the age of 14.

Mum and Dad's wedding

My parents’ wedding day