Adonis Diaries

Twice grievously burned by atomic bombs: Yamaguchi Lived to be 93 and wrote tankas

Posted on: May 13, 2011

 

Twice grievously burned by atomic bombs: Lived to be 93

Who is Tsutomu Yamaguchi?  The name sounds familiar:  Is it a Japanese aircraft carrier, a nuclear submarine, a samurai clan, or a city in Japan?

He is Tsutomu Yamaguchi, in visit to Hiroshima at age 29 as the first atomic bomb exploded on August 7, 1945.

Yamaguchi was grievously burned in the face and arms.  Unperturbed, Yamaguchi boarded the night train to Nagasaki to be at work at the shipyard building of Mitsubishi the next day.

The day after,Yamaguchi witnessed the second atomic bomb dropped over his head. The first thought must have been: “Gee, the US enemy will be dropping atomic bombs as we dropped regular bombs!” Tsutomu lived to be 93 of age and died in January 2010 from stomach cancer.

I am pretty sure that if Tsutomu lived an extra few month he would have been visiting the seashore by Fukushima. Tsutomu would have witnessed a monster tsunami of over 35 meters high, an earthquake over level 9, and a nuclear meltdown worse than Chernobyl.   Tsutomu would have been the true Superman of the century, an immortal.  He would have committed suicide out of boredom.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi did better for immortality:  He composed “tanka” (rime less short five lines of poems), to conjure out other Hiroshima and Nagasaki calamities. Yamaguchi asked Chad Diehl to translate the tanka in English and in rimes.  Thus, the published “And the river flowed as a raft of corpses”

Chad is finishing his PhD at Columbia University.  He landed in Japan in 2000 to study the Japanese language at the university of Kumamoto Gakuen. Chad was wondering: “How come the US decided to drop an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a city hosting the highest number of Catholics in Japan?”

Chad met Tsutomu in New York in 2006:  Tsutomu was attending the projection of the documentary Nijyi Hibaki (Twice irradiated).  Tsutomu had sent a letter to movie director James Cameron asking him to hear his testimonials:  Cameron was about to direct the film “Jigoki” (The hell) against the nuclear industry.

Tsutomu, as most the irradiated Japanese, decided to break the silence when his 59 year-old son died of generalized cancer.

A few samples of Tsutomu tankas:

1. In the vast Hiroshima/ Blazing and raging/ Dawn breaks and comes my way/ A human raft/ Charried by the river.

2. All men die/ Piled up and burned/ Grease oozing out/ Spilled and spreading on the dirt/ Never to dry up.

3. If death is to come/ Peacefully my way/ What a pleasure it would be/ When the time to die is near/ There is nothing but to die.

Chad wrote a tanka of his own:

Rain of prunes/ Black rain/ My master of poetry/ Living under his roof/ I discovered the truth.

Note:  Japan committed immeasurable atrocities of crimes against humanity in Korea and China, even before engaging in WWII.

Yes, the US would have kept atomic bombs raining over Japan to coax Japan into quicker surrender before crazy Stalin of Russia occupies all of Korea.

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adonis49

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