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Hibakusha Story: Suzuko Numata

Watch a short version of Hiroshima Hibakusha Suzuko Numata’s interview on ANT-Hiroshima’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIGJgRyv4U0

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Hibakusha Suzuko Numata
Hibakusha Suzuko Numata interview in 2007.

Below is a short excerpt from Numata-san’s testimony archived on Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum online archive. Read the full version here: http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/virtual/VirtualMuseum_e/visit_e/testimony_e/testimo09_2.html

The atomic bombing, three days before my wedding day
When the air-raid warning sounded, I was uneasy. It was early morning. Maybe this would be a real B29 attack. Still, I assumed it would be cleared soon like the others, without incident. We just waited at home. I didn’t look at the clock, but later I learned that the warning sounded at 7:09 and was cleared at 7:31. It seemed like at least an hour to me. Our small radio assured us that all of the planes that had been approaching Hiroshima had turned back. Relieved, I picked up my air-raid hood and small first-aid kit, said goodbye to my mother, and left with my father and sister for work at the Communications Bureau, a four-story reinforced concrete building located 1000 meters from what would soon be the hypocenter. My older brother was working at the Hiroshima Savings Bureau, 1,500 meters from the hypocenter. My mother was at home.

When we arrived at the Bureau, my father went up to the fourth floor and my sister to the third. I hurried up to my post on the roof and found no other women there. I thought I was the first person to arrive, but when I glanced at the desks, I saw men’s shirts on them. I looked out on the roof. There was not a cloud in the brilliant blue sky. The men, stripped to the waist, were exercising, chatting, or fanning themselves and looking at the sky. I watched them for a while, then decided I should start cleaning the room. When I finally finished cleaning the large room, I went down to the fourth floor for some reason. Usually, I would have used one of the three low water taps on the roof. I would have been bent over scrubbing the cloths, my back and head exposed to the sky. Instead, after taking a look at my colleagues outside, I set off with my bucket for the fourth floor. I was standing in the hall opposite the sink beside the steps when I saw a brilliant, multi-colored flash.

I don’t think it could have taken me more than two minutes to get from the roof to the sink on the fourth floor. I was facing the yard, in the direction of the hypocenter. I remember a bright mixture of colors: red, yellow, blue, green, and orange. I didn’t know it then, of course, but later learned that I had seen the flash released at the moment the atomic bomb exploded.

 

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