top of page

Black Rain Falling

This first-hand account, a blunt reminder on a horrific 73rd anniversary.


Hibakusha Testimony

The first atomic bomb actually used in war time was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, killing 130,000 to 150,000 people by the end of the year. Those who survived the bombing are rapidly aging now after struggling for many years. The Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation has decided to newly videotape the testimony of 100 A-bomb victims to commemorate the International Year of Peace 1986 to record the precious experiences of these survivors to be handed down to future generations…

Ms. Akiko Takakurawas 20 years old when the bomb fell. She was in the bank of Hiroshima, 300 meters away from the hypocenter. Ms. Takakura miraculously escaped death despite over 100 last rated [lacerated] wounds on her back. She is one of the few survivors who was within 300 meters of the hypocenter. She now runs a kindergarten and she relates her experience of the atomic bombing to children.

Takakura: After the air-raid alarm was called off, I walked from Hatchobori to the bank of Hiroshima in Kamiya-cho. I arrived at the bank some time around 8:15 or so, and signed my name in the attendance book. When I was doing my morning routine, dusting the desks and things like that, the A-bomb was dropped. All I remember was that I saw something flash suddenly.

Interviewer: Can you explain the flash?

Takakura: Well, it was like a white magnesium flash. I lost consciousness right after or almost at the same time I saw the flash. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in the dark. I heard my friends, Ms. Asami, crying for her mother. Soon after, I found out that we actually had been attacked. Afraid of being caught by a fire, I told Ms. Asami to run out of the building. Ms. Asami, however, just told me to leave her and to try to escape by myself because she thought that she couldn't make it anywhere. She said she couldn't move. I said to her that I couldn't leave her, but she said that she couldn't even stand up. While we were talking, the sky started to grow lighter.

Then, I heard water running in the lavatory. Apparently the water pipes had exploded. So I drew water with my helmet to pour over Ms. Asami`s head again and again. She finally regained consciousness fully and went out of the building with me. We first thought to escape to the parade grounds, but we couldn't because there was a huge sheet of fire in front of us. So instead, we squatted down in the street next to a big water pool for fighting fires, which was about the size of this table. Since Hiroshima was completely enveloped in flames, we felt terribly hot land could not breathe well at all. After a while, a whirlpool of fire approached us from the south. It was like a big tornado of fire spreading over the full width of the street. Whenever the fire touched, wherever the fire touched, it burned. It burned my ear and leg, I didn't realize that I had burned myself at that moment, but I noticed it later.

Interviewer: So the fire came towards you?

Takakur: Yes, it did. The whirlpool of fire that was covering the entire street approached us from Ote-machi. So, everyone just tried so hard to keep away from the fire. It was just like a living hell. After a while, it began to rain. The fire and the smoke made us so thirsty and there was nothing to drink, no water, and the smoke even disturbed our eyes. As it began to rain, people opened their mouths and turned their faces towards the sky and try to drink the rain, but it wasn't easy to catch the rain drops in our mouths. It was a black rain with big drops.

Interviewer: How big were the rain drops?

Takakura: They were so big that we even felt pain when they dropped onto us. We opened our mouths just like this, as wide as possible in an effort to quench our thirst. Everybody did the same thing. But it just wasn't enough. Someone, someone found an empty can and held it to catch the rain.

Interviewer: I see. Did the black rain actually quench your thirst?

Takakura: No, no it didn't. Maybe I didn't catch enough rain, but I still felt very thirsty and there was nothing I could do about it. What I felt at that moment was that Hiroshima was entirely covered with only three colors. I remember red, black and brown, but, but, nothing else. Many people on the street were killed almost instantly. The fingertips of those dead bodies caught fire and the fire gradually spread over their entire bodies from their fingers. A light gray liquid dripped down their hands, scorching their fingers. I, I was so shocked to know that fingers and bodies could be burned and deformed like that. I just couldn't believe it. It was horrible. And looking at it, it was more than painful for me to think how the fingers were burned, hands and fingers that would hold babies or turn pages, they just, they just burned away. For a few years after the A- bomb was dropped, I was terribly afraid of fire. I wasn't even able to get close to fire because all my senses remembered how fearful and horrible the fire was, how hot the blaze was, and how hard it was to breathe the hot air. It was really hard to breathe. Maybe because the fire burned all the oxygen, I don't know. I could not open my eyes enough because of the smoke, which was everywhere. Not only me but everyone felt the same. And my parts were covered with holes.


Gary S. Trujillo

Somerville, Massachusetts {wjh12,spdcc,ima,cdp}!gnosys!gst

Eyewitness testimony from Nuclear Weapon Archive. A Hibakusha is a survivor of the atomic bomb at either Hiroshima or Nagasaki in 1945.

*Note: Black Rain has become a metaphor in Japan for the atomic bomb and its aftermath. What is it exactly? The following is excerpted from When an atomic bomb is dropped and hits the earth, a large fireball develops close to the ground. The warm air in the center of the fireball rises, causing a massive wind to blow toward the base of the fireball, to replace the air that rose above it. This wind draws in dirt and dust as well as ash and debris from the initial bomb blast. As the dirt, dust, ash and debris become mixed with radioactive fallout from the bomb; the material becomes coated with radioactive particles, and becomes radioactive itself. This dirt, dust, ash and debris remain in the atmosphere until it rains, when the material mixes with rain drops and falls back down as black rain, coating everything with radioactive dirt for hundreds and even thousands of miles from the bomb site.

Image credit: UN Photo, Yuichiro Sasaki, UN News, the remains of a wristwatch found in the ruins of Hiroshima, Japan, records the moment of the atomic bomb explosion at 8:15 a.m. on 6 August 1945.

Receive future essays

Search by tags
My other sites
  • instagram
bottom of page