Testimony of Akira Onogi

Mr. Akira Onogi was 16 years old when the bomb was dropped. He was at home 1.2 km away from center of explosion. The house was under the shade of the warehouse, which protected him from the first blast. All five members of the Onogi family miraculously survived the immediate fire at their house.

MR. ONOGI: I was in the second year of junior high school and was mobilized work with my classmates at the Eba Plant, Mitsubishi shipbuilding. On the day when A-bomb was dropped, I happened to be taking the day off and I was staying at home. I was reading lying on the floor with a friend of mine. Under the eaves I saw blue flash of light just like a spark made by a train or some short circuit. Next, a steamlike blast came.

INTERVIEWER: From which direction?

ONOGI: Well, I'm not sure, anyway, when the blast came, my friend and I were blown into another room. I was unconscious for a while, and when I came to, I found myself in the dark. Thinking my house was directly hit by a bomb, I removed red soil and roof tiles covering me by hand and for the first time I saw the sky. I managed to go out to open space and I looked around wondering what my family were doing. I found that all the houses around there had collapsed for as far as I could see.

INTERVIEWER: All the houses?

ONOGI: Yes, well, I couldn't see anyone around me but I heard somebody shouting ``Help! Help!'' from somewhere. The cries were actually from underground as I was walking on. Since no choose were available, I'd just dug out red soil and roof tiles by hand to help my family; my mother, my three sisters and a child of one of my sisters. Then, I looked next door and I saw the father of neighboring family standing almost naked. His skin was peeling off all over his body and was hanging from finger tips. I talked to him but he was too exhausted to give me a reply. He was looking for his family desperately. The person in this picture was a neighbor of us. I think the family's name was the Matsumotos. When we were escaping from the edge of the bridge, we found this small girl crying and she asked us to help her mother. Just beside the girl, her mother was trapped by a fallen beam on top of the lower half of her body. Together with neighbors, we tried hard to remove the beam, but it was impossible without any tools. Finally a fire broke out endangering us. So we had no choice but to leave her. She was conscious and we deeply bowed to her with clasped hands to apologize to her and then we left. About one hour later, it started raining heavily. There were large drops of black rain. I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and shorts and it was freezing. Everybody was shivering. We warmed ourselves up around the burning fire in the middle of the summer.

INTERVIEWER: You mean the fire did not extinguish by the rain?

ONOGI: That's right. The fire didn't subside it at all. What impressed my very strongly was a 5 or 6 year-old-boy with his right leg cut at the thigh. He was hopping on his left foot to cross over the bridge. I can still record this scene very clearly. The water of the river we looking at now is very clean and clear, but on the day of bombing, all the houses along this river were blown by the blast with their pillars, beams and pieces of furniture blown into the river or hanging off the bridges. The river was also filled with dead people blown by the blast and with survivors who came here to seek water. Anyway I could not see the surface of the water at all. Many injured people with peeled skin were crying out for help. Obviously they were looking at us and we could hardly turn our eyes toward the river.

INTERVIEWER: Wasn't it possible to help them?

ONOGI: No, there were too many people. We took care of the people around us by using the clothes of dead people as bandages, especially for those who were terribly wounded. By that time we somehow became insensible all those awful things. After a while, the fire reached the river bank and we decided to leave the river. We crossed over this railway bridge and escaped in the direction along the railway. The houses on both sides of the railroad were burning and railway was the hollow in the fire. I thought I was going to die here. It was such an awful experience. You know for about 10 years after bombing I always felt paralyzed we never saw the sparks made by trains or lightning. Also even at home, I could not sit beside the windows because I had seen so many people badly wounded by pieces of glass. So I always sat with the wall behind me for about 10 years. It was some sort of instinct to self-preservation.

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