On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima City was instantly reduced to ruins by a single atomic bomb. Tens of thousands of people were massively irradiated, exposed to fires that burned their bodies, and died in deep suffering.
The final words of a younger brother heard from strangers, the whispered words of a child on the verge of death, words spoken in those last moments can never be erased from the hearts of loved ones no matter how much time has passed.
Many mementos have been entrusted to our museum with the intense desire of the bereaved that no other people should experience the same thing they did, and that atomic bombings and wars must never happen again.
This exhibition introduces these belongings together with the last words of those who owned them and the remembrances of their family members.
“Please give these to my family on Miyajima”
With his leg pinned between beams from the train station, my younger brother handed over his student’s handbook and train pass, and then burned to death while still conscious.
My younger brother, unable to run away and unfortunate enough to remain conscious, must have known the end was near when he handed over his student’s handbook and train pass and said what would be his final words to Officer Nishi before being burned alive in the station building.
I wonder what he was thinking in that living hell as the fire raged about him in those last moments. If the atomic bomb hadn't been dropped and if the train hadn't been late, maybe it wouldn't have mattered if his ankle or leg had been pinned, not to mention if there had just been a saw around to cut off his leg, he wouldn't have had to have been burned alive.
From “Saw” by Yoko Funatsuki daughter of Sayoko Funatsuki
“Mother, give me water”
When I finally brought the water, my daughter was dead.
I looked everywhere for her and heard that members of Aki Girl’s High School were at the bottom of the riverbed, so I headed there. There, the miserable figures of our children with their blackened faces were lined on the ground. I looked for her, calling out her name.
I caught a glimpse of a chemise which had been bought in Davao in the Philippines and was quite rare in Japan. Looking carefully, I could see the name Ota was written on it. I spoke to the child and she responded by calling me mother.
Setsuko asked me for water, and soon all of the children who were still breathing began to beg for water. So, I told Setsuko that I’d fetch some water as quickly as I could and went to find some. It was very hard to find water and I ran around desperately looking for some. When I had finally found water and returned, they were all dead. I moistened everyone’s lips with the water while apologizing.
From Yoshimi’s account
“Could I have some money to buy an ice pop?”
My husband put a 50 sen note into his hand and told him he could buy it with that, but he peacefully slipped away.
On August 11, Jiro’s condition eventually changed. His breathing became shallow and in a raspy voice he asked for money to buy an ice pop. My husband put a 50 sen note into his hand and told him he could get one with that, but he gradually grew silent and around 9:30 in the morning peacefully died surrounded by everyone.
Without thinking of his own death, he begged the neighbors to help his mom, carried water up the collapsed steps to the second floor, and put out the fire for us. He did so much and then died.
From Katsuko’s account of the atomic bombing
“Dad is waiting”
He died while talking about the father he had never seen who died just after he was born.
Muttering incoherently, he said he was going to travel the world—not today, but tomorrow. I realized we wouldn’t be able to help him and, with my mother, felt sorry for him and cried. (omitted) I told him not to worry about school anymore and get better soon.
At length he settled down, but then he became delirious again, telling me that his father was waiting for him. Although he never talked about his father before, I thought his father's spirit must have come for him. (His father, Shizuo, had died the year Yasuyoshi was born.)
He drew his last breath. At that moment, all was sadness and I don't know how to put it but it felt like everything had grown dark and meaningless. All I could do was cry and cry; that boy was what I had lived for, and now I'm reeling and this body doesn't feel like it is mine.
From a written account left behind by Ryoko
contributor — Sayoko Funatsuki, EIko Kawamuki, Yoshitada Mitsuda, Kiyoshi Amano,
Creator — Yoshitada Mitsuda