Silent Witness

Silent Witness: Burnt school cap is memento of 12-year-old brother who died in A-bombing

by Kyoko Niiyama, Staff Writer

The cap’s outer material is burnt and barely retains its original form, exposing the linen lining. It was worn by Morito Nishisako, 12, a first-year student at First Hiroshima Prefectural Junior High School (now Kokutaiji High School in Naka Ward) on the day of the atomic bombing. The cap, with its raw reminders of the tremendous blast, quietly conveys a message of the cruelty of the atomic bombing, which cut off this young boy’s future.

Morito’s school was located about 900 meters from the hypocenter. Around 300 first-year students at his school experienced the atomic bombing either while in the school building or engaged in work near the school, helping to tear down homes to create a fire lane. Most of these children lost their lives in the bombing. It isn’t clear which place Morito was at the time of the attack. His cap was found by the parent of a classmate and brought to the school’s dormitory.

The nametag, which was carefully stitched inside the cap, was the evidence needed to identify the owner. The cap was handed down to Morito from Tetsuo Nishisako, his elder brother who died in 2018 at the age of 87.

After Morito’s death, Tetsuo placed the cap in a wooden box and kept it with care. Remembering Morito, he said, “He was a wonderful younger brother.” When Tetsuo saw that the cap, his memento of Morito, was deteriorating, he donated it to the Peace Memorial Museum in 2004, thinking that it should be properly preserved. At the main building of the museum, which reopened in late April, it was added to the exhibit of belongings left behind by mobilized students who were killed in the bombing.

(Originally published on June 11, 2019)