Toshiko Saiki dies at 97, cleaned Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound for 40 years

by Kanako Noda, Staff Writer

Toshiko Saiki, who cleaned around the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound for more than 40 years, died at a hospital in Hiroshima on October 3. She was 97. The mound is located in the Peace Memorial Park. Ms. Saiki also made efforts to share her A-bomb experience with many people. A funeral service was held on October 4.

At the time of the atomic bombing, Ms. Saiki was at her sister’s home in present-day Asaminami Ward. She went into the city center to search for family members for days on end from August 6. Exposed to the bomb’s residual radiation, she suffered from acute symptoms of radiation sickness. In all, she lost 13 relatives including her mother, her siblings, and her husband’s parents.

Saying that it was the duty of those who survived that day to convey the voices of the voiceless victims, Ms. Saiki cleaned around the mound for more than 40 years until she suffered a cerebral infarction in 1998. She spent 1.5 hours traveling to the park by bus each day and did weeding and tidying up around the mound, where the unclaimed remains of some 70,000 victims are interred. She also tried to find the relatives of the victims who had been identified, and shared her account with tourists and students visiting the park on school trips. In recognition of her efforts, she was presented with the Hiroshima Citizen Award in 2005.

(Originally published on October 5, 2017)