The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

A mother’s love, after Hiroshima

Behind her the dome ruins in Hiroshima.Japanese children in summer kimono offer prayers with paper lanterns..jpg



“Someday, the voices of the hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of August 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change.”

President Obama said these words standing in front of the cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Parkon May 27. At that moment, the debates about why he should or should not visit Hiroshima and what he should or should not do there no longer mattered to me. As the daughter of a hibakusha, a survivor of the Hiroshima attack, I was grateful that the president paid respect to the victims who died that day, to those who lived, and to those who continue to live, being victims to their memories of August 6.

My mother, Toshiko Ishikawa, was a 12-year-old girl in Hiroshima the day the atomic bomb was dropped. She was young enough to not quite grasp why it happened, yet old enough to never forget what happened. My mother lost her family, friends, and home, yet she never lost her ability to love.

My mother moved to the United States in 1959 and shortly after that became a US citizen. My mother did not hold hatred; instead she hoped that such a weapon would never be used again on any country. I have presented her experience to middle schools for the past six years, so students would understand there’s more to August 6th and 9th than the textbook picture of the mushroom cloud and a few sentences stating the bomb ended the war. By telling her story to a new generation of future voters, I hope I am honoring her wish and making her proud.

I wrote my middle-grade historical fiction,The Last Cherry Blossom, when teachers inquired if I had a book that they could add to their class reading list to complement my discussion. The Last Cherry Blossom published this month. It’s a bittersweet time for me. My mom passed away in January 2015. However, she did read the latest draft (at that time) of the manuscript, and she knew it would be published.

I wanted to write this book not just to honor my mother and her family, but to honor all the people who suffered or died from the effects of pika don. We need to remember the immense destruction a nuclear weapon produced in the past. Not for blame, but to realize how much worse the damage could be today and how many more innocent lives would be lost. Because the first step toward nuclear disarmament is remembering that the people under those famous mushroom clouds were someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, or child.

Originally, scientists said nothing would grow again in Hiroshima for many years after the bomb was dropped. Yet the cherry blossoms bloomed again the following spring. The cherry blossoms endured, much like the spirit of the people affected by the bombing in Hiroshima.

Last summer my family visited Hiroshima to honor my mother at the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Victims. Standing on the same ground where she experienced so much horror and destruction at the age of 12 broke my heart.

My mother lost so much that fateful day, yet she gained an inner strength she never thought possible. The love she gave my daughter and me proved that love prevails over fear.

Kathleen Burkinshaw lives in Charlotte, NC, and is the author of The Last Cherry Blossom (Sky Pony Press August 2016).

August 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Hiroshima museum gets hibakusha’s rare copy of A-bomb tanka book written behind censors’ backs


A tanka collection by late hibakusha poet Shinoe Shoda, recently found in a private home, has been donated to the city of Hiroshima.

HIROSHIMA – A copy of an anthology of traditional tanka by Shinoe Shoda written to depict the horrors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and secretly published during the Allied Occupation has been discovered at a temple in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The anthology, titled “Sange,” a Buddhist term meaning death, was donated to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in the city on Tuesday.

The only other copy was thought to be one found earlier at the house of a relative of the late poet.

The donated copy is “a precious and rare material,” said an official at the Hiroshima Municipal Government’s peace promotion division.

Shoda experienced the atomic bombing while at home, only about 1.7 km from ground zero.

The anthology includes about 100 tanka that give graphic descriptions of what she experienced or heard from other hibakusha.

A translation of one tanka reads:

The heavy bones / must be the teacher / and alongside / small skulls / are gathered.”

In 1947, when the anthology was published, Japan was under U.S.-led Occupation and severe restrictions had been imposed on publications and reporting related to the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, according to the municipal government.

To evade Occupation censors, Shoda picked Hiroshima Prison as the place to print about 150 copies of the anthology. The copies were handed out only to people close to her.

About 10 years ago, Tomoaki Shoja, the 60-year-old chief priest of Sentokuji Temple in the town of Kitahiroshima, discovered a copy of “Sange” when he was organizing his late priest’s belongings.

The original owner is believed to have given it to Shoja’s family because a son of Shoda was evacuated to the temple in the closing days of the war.

The museum is considering putting the anthology on display.

Not many people know Shoda,” said Shoja. “She could become better known if more people have the chance to see the anthology.”

August 3, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment