Testimony of Takehiko Sakai

Mr. Takehiko Sakai, 21 years old at that time, was at the west drill ground when the atomic bomb was dropped. He did not lose consciousness and remembers his military uniform catching fire. The bomb fell two days after Mr. Sakai had arrived in Hiroshima from his regiment in Yamaguchi.

SAKAI: Around the time of the bombing I heard a voice shout, "A parachute is coming down." I was coming out of the passageway from the lavatory and looked for the parachute, but could not find it. Putting it out of mind, I turned back when there was an intense flash like the magnesium light used for photographing. By reflex, I crouched or rather, I felt down. And that was when I was jolted and knocked down by an immense force. The force and my fall all took place at the same time, all in one moment. When the blow came, I closed my eyes but I could still feel the extreme heat. To say the least, it was like being roasted alive many times over. It was terribly hot, much worse than the pain which one must endure when an incision is made during surgery. While trying to withstand the terrible heat, I moved my hand,but there was no feeling in it. I also tried to move my feet, but I couldn't tell whether they were still connected to my body. I was completely numb from my knees down to my feet and from my elbows to my shoulders. I looked out and it was pitch black. It was stifling. The heat was terrible. I took a deep breath and then mud and sand was sucked into my mouth. Thinking again, I held my breath for a few seconds. A little while later, I noticed that the side of my body was very hot. It was on fire. And I tried to put it out. But it wouldn't go out so easily. Here are the scars, these are my burns. I threw away my shirt and I sat down cross-legged, and glanced in front of me. I could see people running in the dark. Some of them were on fire, and some of them were just rolling around on the ground. Gradually it became lighter. And just then, the sun ray broke through the clouds. The light appeared to be in many different colors, red and yellow, purple and also white. At that time, I was a cadet in active service. So I couldn't just run away. My institution told me that the bridges in the city would all be destroyed in an attack of this magnitude and that therefore would be impossible to get away. I thought that surely something could be done since the entire army couldn't have all been wiped out completely. Besides, running away seemed like a cowardly thing to do and that's why I stayed put and persevered. After a while, perhaps an hour or so later, I realized that my face had become swollen. You could hardly recognize me, my lips and my face were all popped up like this and my eyes, I had to force my eyes open with my fingers in order to see. It must have been a little after nine when the fire got bigger, in the beginning it hadn't been so bad, but later after the fire started. We wanted to rescue the people who were trapped inside. But most of the people who actually escaped managed to get up by themselves. Though we could hear their voices from inside, we were too weak to lift up a big house with its tiled roof because of our injuries. Really, there was nothing much that we could do. Then, after some time, it started to rain heavily like the sudden storm. I suppose that's what's known as the black rain. It was about ten o'clock and I thought where it lasted, the the rain would extinguish the fire. Actually, though, it made very little difference and the fire raged on. Later on in the evening when we were sitting around without having much to do, most of the people had already fled and the city was still burning. We could hear voices calling ``Help!'' or ``It's , it's so hot. Help us!'' The voices, they weren't from nearby but from a far away. We didn't know just where those voices came from, but it became quiet by midnight. The bomb fell on the the sixth and we remained here until about 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the tenth. Then, on the evening of August 15, we heard that the war was over. I was happy, I was really happy that the war had ended. But I was also worried, I was worried about what would happen next. I didn't know if I could be useful to society or not, but I wanted to do something constructive and so I decided to become a teacher. The situation in Japan those days quite pitiful. There was very little to eat. Everyone was very poor. During the period immediately after the bombing, because of my injuries, people had to look after me and it was through their care that I was able to get better. So I tried to repay this dept. by teaching my students to be kind and consider it whenever I had the opportunity to do so. Consequently, I think it was a good thing that I became a teacher and in this way to somehow pay back society for what had happened.

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