Today’s Double Exposing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!
Today we continue the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who was injured by the atomic blast at Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. We pick up the tale after Tsutomu has made his way on a train from Hiroshima to reunite with his family in Nagasaki.
Ill and swooning, Yamaguchi arrived in Nagasaki early on August 8 and staggered home. (His family had assumed him lost; he convinced his wife he wasn’t a ghost by showing her his feet, since Japanese ghosts traditionally have none.) Yamaguchi rested that day, swimming in and out of consciousness, but obeyed an order the next day to report to Mitsubishi headquarters in Nagasaki.
He arrived shortly before 11 a.m. Arms and face bandaged, he struggled to relate the magnitude of atomic warfare to his coworkers. But his boss, skeptical, interrupted to browbeat him, dismissing his story as a fable. “You’re an engineer,” he barked. “Calculate it. How could one bomb… destroy a whole city?” Famous last words. Just as this Nostradamus wrapped up, a white light swelled inside the room. Heat prickled Yamaguchi’s skin, and he hit the deck of the ship-engineering office.
“I thought,” he later recalled, “the mushroom cloud followed me from Hiroshima.”
Eighty thousand people died in Hiroshima, seventy thousand more in Nagasaki. Of the hundreds of thousands of surviving victims, evidence suggests that roughly 150 got caught near both cities on both days, and that a handful got caught within both blast zones, a circle of intense radiation around 1.5 miles wide. Some of the nijyuu hibakusha, double-exposure survivors, had stories to make stones weep. (One had burrowed into his wrecked home in Hiroshima, clawed out his wife’s blackened bones, and stacked them in a washbasin to return them to her parents in Nagasaki. He was trudging up the street to the parents’ house, washbasin under his arm, when the morning air again fell quiet and the sky was once again bleached white.) But of all the reported double victims, the Japanese government has recognized only one officialnijyuu hibakusha, Tsutomu Yamaguchi.
Shortly after the Nagasaki explosion, Yamaguchi left his shaken boss and office mates and climbed a watchtower on a nearby hill. Beneath another pall of dirty clouds, he watched his cratered out hometown smolder, including his own house. A tarry radioactive rain began falling, and he struggled down the hill, fearing the worst. But he found his wife, Hisako, and young song, Katsutoshi, safe in an air-raid shelter.
(To be continued…)
Morbid Trinket Du Jour!
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