Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Girl’s dress is donated after death of silent A-bomb survivor

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

“I would like this dress to be donated to the Peace Memorial Museum after I die.”

The dress worn by a girl on the day of the atomic bombing silently conveys an A-bomb survivor’s experience that had long been concealed deep in her heart.

Kiyoko Hashimoto (née Yaono), an 11-year old student at Takeya National School (now Takeya Elementary School in Naka Ward), was in a classroom on the second floor of her school when Hiroshima was attacked with the atomic bomb on the morning of August 6, 1945. The school was located approximately 1.3 kilometers from the hypocenter and soon burst into flames. Ms. Hashimoto managed to flee from the school, with many bits of broken glass piercing her face and neck, and eventually jumped into the Kyobashi River.

The river was full of countless floating bodies, but she stayed there in desperation. By the time she was rescued and carried out of the river, it had already grown dark. She was then taken to Kanawajima Island (now part of Minami Ward) by boat, and later, to an aid station at present-day Koyaura, Saka-cho. By the time she was finally reunited with her family, who had safely escaped into the countryside, the war had already ended. At that point, too, she learned that they had held a funeral service for her because they believed she had perished in the bombing.

Although she suffered from various acute symptoms of radiation sickness as a result of her exposure to the atomic bomb, including diarrhea and hair loss, she managed to survive. And until she died at the age of 80 in July 2015, she carefully preserved the tattered dress she was wearing on that fateful August day in 1945. However, she never revealed much about her A-bomb experience to anyone. She thought that if she had taken the dress to the Peace Memorial Museum, she would have had to explain about her experience of the bombing, which would have been very painful. For this reason she preferred that the dress be donated to the museum after her death, and asked her family to bring it to the museum. Two months after Ms. Hashimoto passed away, her wish was fulfilled by her bereaved family.

(Originally published on June 18, 2018)