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An Old Japanese Doctor Who Survived Hiroshima

An Old Japanese Doctor Who Survived Hiroshima

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Published by: rlnac on Feb 01, 2012
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AN OLD JAPANESE DOCTOR WHO SURVIVED HIROSHIMA
By Tomokazu Kosuga
AN OLD JAPANESE DOCTOR WHO SURVIVED HIROSHIMAINTERVIEW AND PHOTO BY TOMOKAZU KOSUGATRANSLATED BY LENA OISHI
 
Japan is still (as of press time on this issue) the only country in the world that has been a victim of the atomic bomb. Since the demons dropped onto the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 63 years ago this past August, the country has continued to quietly suffer from the repercussions. One 91-year-old 
hibakusha
[that’s Japanese for “A-bomb survivor”] doctor continues to call out the dangers and brutality of the A-bomb to the rest of the world. His name is Shuntaro Hida. On August 1, 1944, a year before the bomb dropped on the city, Dr. Hida was posted to Hiroshima’s army hospital as a military doctor. He experienced the bomb blast at just 3.5 miles away from its epicenter, and he has since seen everything there is to see as a doctor specializing in the treatment of A-bomb victims. Dr. Hida knows the effects of the bomb not only from the perspective of someone who was actually there but also from the specialized viewpoint of an army medic. It’s no wonder then that almost 6,000 radiation- sickness sufferers in Japan and around the world have sought his expertise. So what exactly happened on that fateful day in 
 
Hiroshima? Vice spoke to Dr. Hida, who remembers every single detail about the experience.
Vice: How did you manage to avoid being hit by the bomb directly, despite being in Hiroshima at thetime?Dr. Hida:
I was dozing off on my futon the night before the bombing on August 6, when somebody suddenly shook me awake.It was an old man who came from Hesaka village, which is a couple of miles away from Hiroshima. His granddaughter hadcardiac valvular disease and often had seizures, so I regularly went to the village to check up on her. That night she sufferedanother one, so I got on the back of the old man’s bicycle and he rode me to their place. This meant that I got out of Hiroshima just in time to be saved from being directly hit. I was exposed to the radiation, but from a distance of just over three miles fromthe epicenter.
Did you actually see the moment when the A-bomb was dropped?
 Yes, I did. I think I’m the only person who actually saw it with his own eyes and then wrote about the experience later, becausemost people in Hiroshima were killed the instant they saw that bright flash of light.Let me explain how I actually saw the bombing. I spent the night at the old man’s place after looking at the child. The nextmorning, I decided to give her a sedative before going back to the hospital, because if she woke up and started crying shemight have another seizure. I took out a small syringe from my pocket, tilted it upward, and pushed out some liquid to let anyair out. Suddenly I saw a plane flying above Hiroshima in front of me.
That must have been the
Enola Gay 
. Tell us what you saw when the bomb hit Hiroshima
.The first thing I saw was the light. It was so bright that I was momentarily blinded. Simultaneously, I was surrounded by anintense heat. The bomb released a 4,000-degree heat wave in the instant that it hit the ground. I panicked, covered my eyes,and lay low on the floor. I couldn’t hear any noise and the trees weren’t rustling. I thought something was up, so I cautiouslylooked through the window toward where I’d seen the flash of light. The skies were blue with no cloud in sight, but there wasthis bright red ring of fire high up in the skies above the city! In the middle of the ring was a big white ball that kept growing likea thundercloud—this really round thing. It kept getting bigger and bigger until it finally hit the outer fire ring, and then the wholething blew up into a huge red fireball. It was like I was witnessing the birth of a new sun. It was so perfectly round! When I wasa child, I saw Asama Mountain erupt from really close up, but this was much more full-on. The clouds were white, but shiningin rainbow colors as they rose up. It was really beautiful. People call it the “mushroom cloud” but it’s actually a pillar of fire: Thebottom part is a column of flames and the top part is a fireball, which metamorphoses into clouds as it keeps rising up.Then, below the pillar of fire, pitch-black clouds started spreading horizontally above the mountains surrounding Hiroshima.They consisted of sand and dust that were being pushed up from the ground due to the pressure generated from the blast.They were coming toward me like a tidal wave. We were on a hill and there was a cliff next to us, but the next moment thedust clouds had crept right up. Before I knew it, the old man’s house was swallowed up and crushed by the wave. Luckily thethatched roof acted as a cushion, saving the child and myself. It was then that I realized that something terrible must havehappened, and rushed back to the hospital in Hiroshima on the old man’s bike.
What was the first example of a human casualty from the A-bomb that you saw?
I encountered the first victim halfway back to Hiroshima. This black thing suddenly popped out from the side of the road,swaying unsteadily. I had no idea what it was. I slowed down my bicycle and gradually moved closer and realized that it was aperson.I tried to look at its face, but it didn’t have one. There were these two big swollen balls where the eyes should be, a gapinghole for their nose, and the lips had puffed up so big that they were covering half the face. It was hideous. And it had a blackthing that looked like a sleeve draped off its arm, so I initially thought that it was wearing rags. I was wondering what all this

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