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Listen to a narrated account of the atomic bombing
Jungo Kawanami
Gender Male Age at the time of the bombing 11
Location at the time of the bombing Inasa-machi, Nagasaki City
Occupation at the time of the bombing Elementary school student

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60 Years after the War
Jungo Kawanami

I lived through the atomic bombing
And now, having reached the age of 70,
I sing a requiem for my father

I experienced the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on that hot August 9, just after my 11th birthday. Since 1944, my father had been working at Nagasaki Mitsubishi Shipyard, where the navy assigned him to duty as an engineer. My mother passed away from tuberculosis in 1943, when I was just a little girl about to enter third grade. My father quickly remarried because I was still young and things were growing more and more difficult due to the war. He married a woman that someone had introduced to him. I lived with my new mother°«s sister while I attended Kumamoto University Elementary School.

My father and mother-in-law moved to Nagasaki in 1944. I went with them because the war situation had grown intense in Kumamoto and I wanted to live with my father. So, I moved to the Inasa neighbourhood of Nagasaki in March, 1945 and started the fifth grade at Asahi National School. We hardly had any classes at school. Food rations were limited and at best we were given grains and sweet potatoes. I spent most of my time in an air-raid shelter and was almost never in my own room. In late July, an ominous event occurred: a gravestone came crashing through the roof tiles of our house and landed upright in the middle of the tatami mats. It must have been thrown when a bomb exploded over at a nearby cemetery. My father started thinking about sending me to his parents°« home in a rural part of Fukuoka called Hishino, but then, on August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb. That day had been very hot, with the sun beating down fiercely. Some of my friends had come to my house that morning to ask me to go swimming with them, but I told them I°«d meet them a little later because I was hungry, as usual, and wanted to eat something first. While I was eating some roasted beans that we kept for emergencies, I heard a screaming siren and a tremendous blast. I also saw a brilliant flash. At the same moment, my body was lifted into the air and then thrown back to the ground. The shock left me so stunned that I couldn°«t figure out what had happened. I cried and cried, unaware of how much time was passing by. I only came back to my senses when I heard someone shouting, °»Help! Help me!°… I was in great pain, and I realized that I was trapped under debris. Beams and roof tiles from our demolished house pinned down my back and legs. I used all my strength to pull them off and managed to get myself out of the house. Outside was an inferno. There were clouds of dust everywhere. Despite the injuries to my arms and legs, I managed to miraculously survive that sea of fire. I jumped into an air-raid shelter, where I saw people whose skin was scorched and tattered, exposing something that was either bone or tissue, I couldn°«t tell which. There were also beastly-looking people groaning in agony and others who had already died. People were dying in that shelter one after another, without receiving any treatment or being given any food. There was no light either, just the dark of night. I trembled with fear as I waited for my father.

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