@24 days until Hiroshima Summit: A-bomb orphans

by Fumiyasu Miyano, Staff Writer

At the time of the atomic bombing, about 8,300 schoolchildren in Hiroshima city had collectively evacuated to the suburbs to avoid air strikes in the city. The number of A-bomb orphans who lost their family is still unclear, but according to a national survey conducted in 1948, Hiroshima Prefecture had 5,975 orphans, which exceeded Tokyo and was the largest among all prefectures in Japan.

The late Gishin Yamashita, a Buddhist monk, spent his private fortune and established the Hiroshima War Orphans Foster Home in Itsukaichi-cho (now part of Saeki Ward) for A-bomb orphans. Until Hiroshima City took over its management in 1953, 171 children stayed in the home. Every year, they attended the present-day Peace Memorial Ceremony. In an essay about the ceremony, one orphan wrote, “A cloud of smoke came out of incense sticks, my head felt heavy and my heart was full of sorrow. “In the evening, I attended a prayer at the temple’s main hall, calmed myself down, and prayed for the repose of my father and mother’s souls.”

(Originally published on April 25, 2023)