I have offered Water
Written by Hiroshi Yoneda
Translated by Kiyoshi Yoneda
English reviewed by Dennis E. Schneider, Ph.D.
Ported from TWICS BeeLine, Tokyo, Japan
Jeffrey Shapard, Sysop
SUMMARY This is a translation
of Hiroshi Yoneda's diary, portions written around the end of the
Pacific War. His home was in Hiroshima, about 300 meters from the
center of the atomic bomb explosion, presently inside the Peace Park.
He was then a student in Tokyo, so he escaped the holocaust. His mother
and two elder brothers have been killed. He wasn't able to go back
soon to Hiroshima after the bomb, which was lucky, considering the
radiation. He later married his landlady's daughter he mentions frequently
in his diary, who is the translator's mother.
NOT copyrighted. All notes may
be ported, provided that the notes
from 0 to 18 are kept together.
INTRODUCTION [Hiroshi Yoneda]
NEW TYPE ENEMY BOMB DROPPED
RAID BY A SMALL NUMBER OF B-29'S
CONSIDERABLE DAMAGE, DETAILS UNDER INVESTIGATION
This is the headline of an Asahi Shimbun
clipping pasted in my diary on the page for August 8, 1945. It reports
the dropping of the bomb at a little after eight on the morning of
August 6, as released by the General Headquarters at 1530 hours on
I was then a sophomore majoring in Shipbuilding
at Tokyo Imperial University's Second School of Engineering, whose
campus was in Chiba City. My room was in Ichikawa City. We students
had been mobilized to work at places such as shipyards and navy factories.
My workplace was in the campus itself, helping a professor with his
research which was funded by the navy. I would report for work every
day; received a salary of 40 yen a month.
Morning, August 8, 1945, cloudy
Finally it's come to Hiroshima. Moreover, as
a new type bomb with a parachute, exploding in the air. Radio reports
destruction of many buildings and a great number of casualties. Don't
let me worry like this!
Night, August 8, 1945
At school, Ootomi and Yamazaki
mentioned many times the possibility of my family in Hiroshima having
suffered from the bomb. Kept answering them like "yes, that's right,"
and so on, until they said "you seem remarkably calm about it."
I answered, "well, of course I'm worried," and they started laughing.
Felt intolerably alone.
It might be some kind of jealousy; can't say I'm worried to those
who bother to show me compassion. Nevertheless, I feel like crying
like a child. Glad Hiroko-san doesn't say anything. [Translator's
note: Hiroko later became his wife, hence my mother. She was his
But this is a good trial for me. I'll try to behave this way: I'm
not showing my anxiety, not only to Hiroko-san but also to everybody
around, until I hear from Hiroshima.
I'll never worry about things that I cannot do anything about. I'll
live today pleasantly with joy. I don't have to think about tomorrow,
much less about yesterday. Just live today, doing my best at this
I may have become a quite unfortunate person. But, until I know
it for sure, I'll assume that everybody I know, my mother and brothers,
all are safe. And I'll be careful not to make people around me become
gloomy for my sake.
Friday, August 10, 1945, fine
My 22nd birthday ended with a distressful notice. The new type
bomb, called the atomic bomb, has taken away from me, with 80 to
90 percent certainty, my mother, most likely together with two of
my brothers. The center of explosion is said to have been at Danbara;
others say at the division headquarters. In either case, it is hopeless
for those in Tenjin-machi. My eyes see Mother, and my two brothers
Yoshikiyo and Hidesou.
[Translator's note: Tenjin-machi is presently called Nakajima-cho,
in Naka-ku, inside the Peace Park. Our family's permanent address
is there, at 2-banchi. Permanent address is arbitrarily changeable
but has legal meaning in Japan.]
Friday, August 12, 1945, fine
Mother has been killed in
the greatest massacre in the history of mankind. Never expected.
I can only imagine the agony she experienced. She must have called
my name at that moment. When I think of her feelings, I cannot stay
[Translator's note: he was the youngest of her seven children.]
Monday, August 13, 1945, fine
I feel the end of the war is close. People
have lost their fighting spirit due to the emergence of the atomic
bomb and the USSR's entry in the war. I myself have lost it to some
Wednesday, August 15, 1945, fine
We have lost. The direct
cause was the atomic bombs. Teardrops fell as I listened to the
Last night I heard from Tajima-san
that the center of the explosion was at Aioi-bashi bridge, slightly
South of the Industy Promotion Building. That is exactly around our
house in Tenjin-machi. It is regrettable, I must conclude that all
A new departure. I am not discouraged.
Wednesday, August 22, 1945, cloudy
[Author's note: Dr. Eizou Tajima, presently with the Atomic Energy
Safety Commitee, happened to live near by, doing research on atomic
energy at that time. I learned about the new type bomb from him, which
made me fear and despair.]
[Translator's note: One of Professor Tajima's sons happened to work
at the Research and Development Center where I used to work. He married
an American; I hear that they presently live in the States.]
Sunday, August 26, 1945, cloudy
A letter from Mineko-san. Mother found like
charcoal in the kitchen; brothers' corpses not found. Thus the three
who formed my life are gone. Moreover, all at the same time. How Mineko-san
and Kishiko-san must have grieved. I think of the hardship which must
await them. Cried as much as I could. Whenever I see Hiroko-san's
face I cannot help crying. So this is what my crying voice sounds
like. It was the first time I cried out loud. And I cried.
All is over. Mother and my two brothers are no more, no more. It is
like a dream, but they don't exist any more. I recall all that they
did for me.
[Author's note: Mineko is Yoshikiyo's wife; Kishiko is Hidesou's wife.
They were away from Hiroshima and survived.]
[Translator's note: Mineko now lives in Matsuyama, suffering from
leukemia. I hear that Doug's father was in Hiroshima around the same
time, and that he suffers from skin cancer. Kishiko went looking for
her husband in Hiroshima after the explosion, with her baby who died
a short time
later. There was no information about radiation.]
Monday, August 27, 1945
Received a certificate at school exempting
me from the student mobilization. Tried to buy a ticket home to Hiroshima,
Tuesday, August 28, 1945
In Chiba bought a ticket to Koi.
Wednesday, August 29, 1945, fine
[Author's note: What follows is a manuscript
of a letter addressed to my landlady. I married her daughter Hiroko
Leaving behind two teardrops in Hiroko-san's eyes, the train started
moving in an awkwardly smooth manner . . .
From Osaka I went to my brother Masao's house; I arrived there late
at night. I said "Konbanwa (good evening)," and Masao-san's voice
replied, "Donata (who is it)?" At my "Hiroshi desu (It's Hiroshi),"
he rushed out of the house and said, with such an empty voice, "Minna
shinda yo (They're all dead)!"
We talked until very late at night. I asked how it was there. He told
me the things he had written in a letter to me, which should be arriving
by now. I asked him question after question, and listened intently.
We two alone -- yes, there were so many brothers in that picture taken
on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of my father's death, and
now there are only the two of us left. When I heard that my grandmother
had also died, I felt as if my sight had suddenly blackened out. And
I added one more portion to the obituary gift you had prepared for
[Translator's note: Masao Matsutomo died in 1985 of brain cancer.
His surname is not Yoneda because he was adopted by the Matsutomo
family. Both Yoneda and Matsutomo were samurai families in Matsuyama,
Shikoku; it was traditional since the Edo period that when one of
the two families had no son, a child from the other family would be
[Translator's note: the grandmother is Sumi Yoneda, maiden name Ochi.]
Friday, August 31,
[Translator's note: manuscript
of a letter to his landlady Tokiko, my grandmother. See entry for
Hiroshima was too distressing, not only to the residents of the city.
On the 6th, almost every family living around the city had sent someone
to central Hiroshima. Drafted workers, soldiers, mobilized students,
people on duty, etc. Most of them have been killed. I took the Kabe
line. The train was full. Maybe 90 percent of the people on this train
have lost some of their family.
Arrived at Kabe; sister [in law] had gone to Kaitaichi. Sakie, Seisou,
and Motoko were all there. [Translator's note: they are all Yoshikiyo's
children. Seisou is the eldest son, Sakie and Motoko are daughters.
They all live in Matsuyama now.] Great welcome. Sakie began to cook
rice for me. Seisou brought in lots of things to show me. Everybody
seems well, considering what has happened. The children were all sad
that their grandmother had died. And they tried to console me. "It's
too bad for you, brother, that Grandma is gone."
[Author's note: I was then called brother rather than uncle.]
About my mother, I heard from brother Masao and the children. She
had prepared everything so neatly for us, and especially for me. They
found out about it when they dug up the burned ground. Every time
I heard about it I wanted to cry. Mother. Why did you think so much
about me, and not think a bit more about yourself? The books I had
asked her to keep were found at the deepest corner of the shelter.
There were three careful stacks in the shelter. For instance, she
had prepared large pots filled with water to keep the pottery from
being broken by bombs. She would enjoy buying things like coffee cups,
little by little, for me and my future bride. She had even taken the
trouble to make my bank account number clear by double checking through
my sister [in law]. She had done all those things for me. My sister
[in law], her children, and everybody seemed to think only of me.
When I gave the children the pears, letters from Reiko-chan and Atsuji-chan,
socks for Motoko, shirts, etc., they all rejoiced. [Translator's note:
Reiko and Atsuji are Hiroko's sister and brother, respectively.] Sister
wept in gratitude when she saw your gifts I had brought for the dead,
such as pears, incense, and candles. That was very considerate of
The unconditional "Please youself!" surrender of Japan moved right
into my heart. At the moment, I have no way I can live but by begging
mercy of everybody. I thought about myself, treading through this
intimidating world, with that tiny bit of knowledge I gained at school
as the only asset. The English idiom "at the mercy of" came to my
mind, and I fondled it in my mind giving it various interpretations.
Do it as you like. For mercy's sake. Happy go lucky. Freedom to you.
Things will turn out. Until the last drop of fuel is gone. And so
[Translator's note: the author was the only one of the four brothers
who was able to receive college level education, mostly because he
was the youngest. He was grateful for the opportunity.]
Tuesday, September 25, 1945, fine later
The whole of Japan is blaming and criticizing
the past, grumbling against those who started and conducted the war.
In the middle of it, it seems as if I were alone with my critical
spirit lost. I cannot help thinking about it this way. Tojo-san was
an unlucky man who, alone, assumed the responsibility for the war.
The military clique consisted of those also unlucky fellows who just
carried on with practical politics at a time when they had no way
out. And at each moment, they had no way open other than to take precisely
those actions that they took.
It was Japan's fate. I cannot help considering that it was fate that
my mother, my brothers, and I suffered this. How would I save myself
without thinking this way? Otherwise, I would have to live the rest
of my life cursing the government, resenting the U.S.
My feelings do not allow me to hold the U.S. responsible for the murder
of my mother and brothers. Much less those Japanese statesmen. I would
like to consider it a consequence of the flow of time, which is not
human, which cannot be influenced in the least by human power. Something
no human can do anything about.
The damage I suffered will persist in my brain for the rest of my
life. Time may allow me to forget it gradually. I will probably be
able to forget it when I am happy. But the fact remains. Oh, how could
I forget that I lost my mother and two beloved brothers at the same
[Author's note: This represents the idea I hold to date, 1986, with
respect to the war. There aren't many people who accept it. But isn't
such despair hidden deep in the hearts of many?]
NAMI NAMI TO
-- Hiroko [Hamada] Yoneda
[I have] offered water copiously
[for those killed by the] atomic bomb
[on this] memorial day.
MOTIVATION FOR TRANSLATION
An extract from my father's diary appeared in Shuukan Asahi, August
16, 1985 issue. Shuukan Asahi is a weekly magazine published by Asahi
Shimbun. It didn't look like anything written by my father. So I commented
to him: "I knew you were more romantic than Mother, but I didn't know
you were THAT melodramatic." Then he showed me his original manuscript,
and that did look like him. The journalist had dropped all but the
I had sent an English translation of the melodramatic version to an
old friend of mine in Los Angeles, and he had asked me for permission
to put it in a local newspaper. I felt bad for having done the translation
of such a mutilated piece of information. So I decided that I should
do a better job. Many people helped.
Thank you, folks.