There is an old and small concrete building called "Rest House" by the Motoyasu Bridge of the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima City. This building stands opposite Atomic Bomb Dome that stands on the other side of Motoyasu River. Although this old building was once exposed to the atomic blast, it is still used as the tourist information center where the visitors can take rest and buy some goods. This Rest House will be taken away because it has got too old and weak, while the Atomic Bomb Dome on the opposite side of the river has been registered in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.
After I finish teaching the evening class of university at Higashi-senda campus, I sometimes come to pass this Rest House by bicycle. Then, I try to anticipate and remember the tragedy that happened here 54 years ago.
At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb exploded. This building (present Rest House) was used by the Prefectural Fuel Rationing Union at that time. Because it was located only 100 meters from the hypocenter, most of the workers inside were killed at once except only 8 injured ( 4 men and 4 women ) who just could creep out for help. It became as dark as the night of a new moon although was morning. The Industrial Promotion Hall ( present Atomic Bomb Dome ) on the opposite side of the river was also collapsing but still not on fire yet. All was in deep silence. In the meantime, the ruined city began to burn. In these 8 injured, a 47-year-old-man was not so harmed because he was in the basement when the A-bomb exploded. He decided to go toward Koi-Town, the west of Hiroshima City, for help. He ran through the ruins where flames and ashes began to fly in the air like snow. After all, he became the only survivor around the hypocenter (Mr Eizo Nomura. Died in 1982, age 84). _ _ _ _ _
I know all occurred here. I also see the explaining plate standing here. I can understand it by mind. However, I cannot image vividly by heart. I try and try, but in vain. I only can feel little reality, even less reality than I felt when I watched the foreign film last year.
I do not mean this is due to the sounds of the capped boys who enjoy skateboarding on the stone floor of the Peace Memorial Park at night, nor did I intend to put the blame upon the glaring lights thrown up to the dark skies with no reserve from Municipal Baseball Stadium over the river. I think this is on account of the icy solitude which everyone is given by nature. You may not remember in everyday life that you are packaged in this invisible ice of solitude, unless you were one of the old volunteers under the shades of green trees in the park who tell their own experiences of the atomic bomb to the boys and girls on high-school excursion.
Knowledge is not enough. Vivid realization is necessary. Nay, it is not still sufficient. Perhaps you must recall and remember the memories, even if they are the memories of distant people who lived before you were born.
If such deeds as literature and music have some meaning, I think it must be in their momentary healing for the icy solitude that were given to us by nature. I will stands on class of Hiroshima University tomorrow, and will make a routine lecture in front of the students who expected to learn Chinese literature, saying "Literature is a system for momentary healing. It was created by the ancestors who knew all the secrets of human". To tell the truth, I myself am a mere short-sighted parrot that feels at a loss standing before Rest House at night.
(note) This article was written for the magazine of the Faculty of Integrated Arts and Science, Hiroshima University " Hishoh " ( or "Flight" )
[Peace Site, Hiroshima City Homepage (English)]
[the memorabilia by Eizo Nomura the survivor only 100 meters from the hypocenter (written in Japanese, 1950)]