My Life—Interview with Keiko Ogura (1937–), interpreter and A-bomb survivor, Part 6: Kaoru Ogura, Keiko’s husband, pushed for Hiroshima’s globalization

After communicating with Kaoru Ogura after he had reunited with the German journalist Robert Jungk, Keiko and Kaoru, who was 17 years her senior, married in 1962.

After having a daughter and a son, I was busy with a fulfilling life as a homemaker, raising our children and caring for my in-laws.

Born in the United States and fluent in English, my husband coordinated visits and translated for Robert Jungk each time he visited Hiroshima, starting in 1957. He continued to cooperate with Mr. Jungk by translating materials into English that conveyed the devastation caused by the atomic bombing and sending him the translations. At the time we married, he was working as a liaison officer for the Hiroshima City government. He not only guided foreign dignitaries who were visiting Hiroshima in English but also responded to requests to serve as an interpreter for the prefectural governor and university officials.

Kaoru Ogura served as director of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and as deputy director of the mayor’s office. During his time as museum director, he came up with the idea for a notebook of visitors’ impressions, in which people would write down their thoughts of what they had seen in the museum. He also devoted himself to Hiroshima’s globalization, including work to organize exhibits of A-bombing photographs at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

He was busy with work but also cherished our family. Whenever he had the time, he would take our kids to enjoy the outdoors. In the evening at times, when he would finish work early, he used to call me and propose that we go out right then. We would all go to the 10,000-ton berth at the Hiroshima Port Passenger Terminal, in the city’s Minami Ward. Spreading out a straw mat on the ground, we used to show our kids the cargo ships from overseas while we all ate dinner, which I had hastily packed and brought with us. He would often say, “That sea is connected to the rest of the world.”

“Dad is the sun. Mom is the moon,” our kids would say. My husband was always cheerful and warm. I’m moody, like the moon with its different phases of waxing and waning.

I respected my husband’s thirst for knowledge but was also jealous of him. When my husband would read magazines and books from abroad by me as I washed the dishes, I used to open up about my own feelings. “Only you study. I don’t have any talents,” I would say, often ending up crying at night. As a homemaker, I probably felt like society was leaving me behind, busy as I was with child rearing, nursing care, and housework. Still, spending time with our family was my greatest joy.

In July 1979, Kaoru collapsed and died as he was writing a draft of the Peace Declaration to be read by the mayor of Hiroshima at the Peace Memorial Ceremony, held on August 6.

At that time, our children were only 15 and 12 years old. His death was so sudden I was at a total loss.

(Originally published on May 4, 2023)