Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Long-used rice pot, Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

Pot also used during postwar food shortage

This long-used metal rice pot was dug out from under the fire-devastated parsonage of the Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church, which was located in Hiroshima’s Nobori-cho (now Kaminobori-cho, Naka Ward). The pot measures 30 centimeters in diameter. With its brim distorted possibly due to the shock caused by the A-bomb blast, the pot includes several marks where its metal appears to have melted in the heat.

“I believe my father found the pot in the kitchen area after the atomic bombing,” said Koko Kondo, 75, daughter of the late Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto. Ms. Kondo, who now lives in Hyogo Prefecture, was eight-months old when she experienced the bombing. At that moment, she was in her mother Chisa’s arms at the entrance to the parsonage.

The parsonage was located about 1.3 kilometers from the hypocenter. The structure was blown down by the A-bomb’s blast. Trapped under the collapsed building, Chisa almost lost consciousness. But hearing her daughter cry, she came to and made a desperate effort to escape. Immediately after she pulled herself from the rubble, the area turned into a sea of fire. The church, located some 560 meters south of the parsonage, was burned down except for its tower and walls. Reverend Tanimoto, who had left the church to do some business, hurried to check on the safety of his wife and daughter. After that, he devoted himself to the rescue of the wounded.

The Tanimotos continued to use the rice pot for some time after the war. In May 1999, Chisa donated it to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. “I guess she felt she had survived together with the pot. It wasn’t easy to get enough food after the war, and my father told me he had to go about in the ruins in search of rice,” said Ms. Kondo. Chisa supported her husband behind the scenes while he worked to help female survivors receive medical treatment in the United States and to provide support for A-bomb orphans. Chisa died at 95 in 2011. Based on her parents’ last wishes, Ms. Kondo continues to be engaged in peace activities.

(Originally published on September 28, 2020)