Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Bag belonged to daughter who left for school, never to return

by Sakiko Masuda, Staff Writer

This 23- by 20-centimeter bag with pretty, eye-catching embroidered flowers belonged to Chikako Okubo, who was a fifth grader at Nakajima National School (now Nakajima Elementary School) at the time of the atomic bombing. Her mother Sakae was skilled at sewing and made the bag for her. On the morning of August 6, 1945, Chikako said to her mother, “I’m leaving now,” and left for school but never returned. Sakae treasured the bag in memory of her only daughter.

Tomoko Hara, 75, was raised by Sakae and now lives in Osaka. After Sakae died, Ms. Hara donated the bag to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, hoping this memento of the girl would help people realize the horrors of the atomic bombing.

The Monument of the A-bombed Teachers and Students of National Elementary Schools was erected in the green belt along Peace Boulevard in 1971. At that time, a list of teachers and elementary school students who perished in the atomic bombing was made. Chikako’s name is on the list. Her mother wrote about Chikako for a collection of essays about the victims, which was entitled Ryuto (Paper lanterns on the river for A-bomb victims). “We raised and loved our only child as the apple of our eye. Now that 26 years have passed since she fell victim to the atomic bombing, my anger and tears of sorrow have run dry.”

(Originally published on February 25, 2019)