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Hiroshima was a fan-shaped city, lying mostly on the six islands formed by the seven estuarial rivers that branch out from the Ota River; its main commercial and residential districts, covering about four square miles in the center of the city, contained three-quarters of its population, which had been reduced by several evacuation programs from a wartime peak of 380,000 to about 245,000.Factories and other residential districts, or suburbs, lay compactly around the edges of the city.If the Americans had not bombed, then the Japanese would continue fighting. Throughout Hirohito's rule, he had no control over the Army.
Tanimoto had been carrying all the portable things from his church, in the close-packed residential district called Nagaragawa, to a house that belonged to a rayon manufacturer in Koi, two miles from the center of town. Matsui, had opened his then unoccupied estate to a large number of his friends and acquaintances, so that they might evacuate whatever they wished to a safe distance from the probable target area. Tanimoto had had no difficulty in moving chairs, hymnals, Bibles, altar gear, and church records by pushcart himself, but the organ console and an upright piano required some aid. In compensation, to show himself publicly a good Japanese, Mr. A few minutes after they started, the air-raid siren went off—a minute-long blast that warned of approaching planes but indicated to the people of Hiroshima only a slight degree of danger, since it sounded every morning at this time, when an American weather plane came over.
A friend of his named Matsuo had, the day before, helped him get the piano out to Koi; in return, he had promised this day to assist Mr. Tanimoto had taken on the chairmanship of his local , or Neighborhood Association, and to his other duties and concerns this position had added the business of organizing air-raid defense for about twenty families. The two men pulled and pushed the handcart through the city streets.
He wears his black hair parted in the middle and rather long; the prominence of the frontal bones just above his eyebrows and the smallness of his mustache, mouth, and chin give him a strange, old-young look, boyish and yet wise, weak and yet fiery.
He moves nervously and fast, but with a restraint which suggests that he is a cautious, thoughtful man. The effort of moving the piano the day before, a sleepless night, weeks of worry and unbalanced diet, the cares of his parish—all combined to make him feel hardly adequate to the new day’s work. Tanimoto had studied theology at Emory College, in Atlanta, Georgia; he had graduated in 1940; he spoke excellent English; he dressed in American clothes; he had corresponded with many American friends right up to the time the war began; and among a people obsessed with a fear of being spied upon—perhaps almost obsessed himself—he found himself growing increasingly uneasy.
A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors.
They still wonder why they lived when so many others died. He was alone in the parsonage, because for some time his wife had been commuting with their year-old baby to spend nights with a friend in Ushida, a suburb to the north.At exactly fifteen minutes past eight in the morning, on August 6, 1945, Japanese time, at the moment when the atomic bomb flashed above Hiroshima, Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, had just sat down at her place in the plant office and was turning her head to speak to the girl at the next desk. Masakazu Fujii was settling down cross-legged to read the Osaka on the porch of his private hospital, overhanging one of the seven deltaic rivers which divide Hiroshima; Mrs.Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow, stood by the window of her kitchen, watching a neighbor tearing down his house because it lay in the path of an air-raid-defense fire lane; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest of the Society of Jesus, reclined in his underwear on a cot on the top floor of his order’s three-story mission house, reading a Jesuit magazine, ; Dr.(The Japanese radar operators, detecting only three planes, supposed that they comprised a reconnaissance.) Pushing the handcart up to the rayon man’s house was tiring, and the men, after they had maneuvered their load into the driveway and to the front steps, paused to rest awhile.They stood with a wing of the house between them and the city.Terufumi Sasaki, a young member of the surgical staff of the city’s large, modern Red Cross Hospital, walked along one of the hospital corridors with a blood specimen for a Wassermann test in his hand; and the Reverend Mr.Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man’s house in Koi, the city’s western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B-29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer.Opposite the house, to the right of the front door, there was a large, finicky rock garden. The morning was still; the place was cool and pleasant. Matsuo reacted in terror—and both had time to react (for they were 3,500 yards, or two miles, from the center of the explosion). Matsuo dashed up the front steps into the house and dived among the bedrolls and buried himself there. Tanimoto took four or five steps and threw himself between two big rocks in the garden. As his face was against the stone, he did not see what happened.Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky. Tanimoto has a distinct recollection that it travelled from east to west, from the city toward the hills. He felt a sudden pressure, and then splinters and pieces of board and fragments of tile fell on him. (Almost no one in Hiroshima recalls hearing any noise of the bomb.Like most homes in this part of Japan, the house consisted of a wooden frame and wooden walls supporting a heavy tile roof.Its front hall, packed with rolls of bedding and clothing, looked like a cool cave full of fat cushions.