Meet the Hibakusha

Each year Hibakusha Stories sponsors visits to New York City of hibakusha and people whose lives were directly affected by the production and deployment of nuclear weapons.  Each receives a generous stipend, housing and round trip transportation to New York.  The Fellows are chosen for their particular gift in sharing their stories with youth.

Kunihiko Bonkohara

Kunihiko Bonkohara “I experienced the atomic bombing while living in Funairi, Hiroshima, about 2 kilometers from the hypocenter. I was five years old at the time. We had a family of six. My older brother and sister were primary school students and had been evacuated. Another older sister and my mother were mobilized to work and so had gone into central Hiroshima. Only my father and I were at home at the time. When the atomic bomb was dropped, at the moment of the bright light, my father pushed me under a desk and placed himself on top of me to protect me”… Read More

Michio Hakariya new

Michio HakariyaMr Hakariya was at his house located 3.8 km away from the hypocenter when he experienced the bomb flash and bomb blast. He sought refuge in an air-raid shelter nearby and avoided further exposure to radiation. After the war he taught in high schools for 36 years. Participation in the 2nd Peace Boat Hibakusha Project in fall 2009 was the starting point for him to start telling his story…. Read More

Shoso Hirai

Shoso HiraiShoso Hirai san was exposed to the atomic bomb in Hiroshima when he was 16 years-old.  He was born on July 20, 1929.  Mr. Hirai was exposed to the atomic bomb at his friend’s house, 4 kilometers from the epicenter, while going to a munitions factory as a mobilized student.  He entered into the city center the following day to look for his father who had gone to work and his younger brother who was also a mobilized student. He only found his father’s bones and his younger brother is still missing… Read More

Michimasa (Michi) Hirata

Michimasa (Michi) Hirata“August 6, 1945 is a special day for me as if it were my second birthday. On that day at the age of nine, I was A-bombed in the living room of my house located about 1.2 miles away from the epicenter in Hiroshima. All of a sudden brilliant flash hit above my head. It changed the city of Hiroshima thoroughly. The scene that developed afterwards was beyond description and just like a hell on the earth. During early period after the bombing, most Hibakusha hid up their bombed experience for fear of discrimination”… Read More

Jong-keun Lee

Jong-keun LeeMr. Lee lives in Hiroshima city. He is a second-generation Korean resident in Japan. His father was forcibly brought to Japan against his will during Japan’s annexation of Korea. After awhile, when his father became able to support a family in Japan, he brought his wife over, and Mr. Lee was born. Mr. Lee was exposed to the atomic bomb on his way to work for the Japanese National Railway. His parents were exposed to the atomic bomb when they entered the city and suffered health problems for a long time. Read More

Hirosi Iso

Hirosi Iso“I was exposed to the atomic bomb at the age of four, about 2.5 kilometers away from the hypocenter in Hiroshima. My father, mother, older sister, younger brother and I were living there. On August 6th, 1945, it was a beautiful morning. At 8:15 am, after my father and my sister already left for work, one nuclear-bomb was dropped on us, and instantly, thousands of people were incinerated and the rest were seriously burnt and injured. The city turned into a hell. By the end of 2009, an estimated death toll due to Hiroshima nuclear bomb reached 140,000″… Read More

Takashi Morita

Takashi MoritaTakashi Morita san is the President of the Association Hibakusha-Brasil Pele Paz (Association of Hibakusha-Brazil for Peace). In 2008 both he and Junko Watanabe travelled with the Peace Boat to talk about his experiences in many countries. In Vietnam, for example, Mr. Morita interacted with the second and third generation of victims of Agent Orange. You can read a brief article, The Day the Sun Fell, about Mr. Morita on Radio Mundo’s website… Read More

Keiko Murakami

Keiko Murakami“When I was 8 years old, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Most people died who were within 1.5 miles of the hypocenter. I luckily survived although I was one mile from the hypocenter. After many years, I have met a lot of people, including people from various foreign countries. I have always tried to tell them, both domestic and foreign, about my A-Bomb experiences of survival. I have contributed weekly essays entitled I Sow Seeds of Nuclear Abolition to the local Joyo Newspaper since July, 2005″… Read More

Hiroko Sakaguchi

Hiroko SakaguchiHiroko Sakaguchi san is a second generation hibakusha from Nagasaki who was born on July 22, 1949.  Ms Sakaguchi’s mother was exposed to the atomic bomb at age 23 in Nagasaki, 3.5 kilometers from the hypocenter.  She passed away from rectal and lung cancer. The children of Ms. Sakaguchi’s uncle and aunt were 500 meters from the hypocenter and passed away within 10 days after the bomb.  Ms. Sakaguchi is the former manager of the Nagasaki Prefecture Association of Children of Atomic Bomb Victims and of the Liaison Council of Children of Atomic Bomb Victims in the Nagasaki Prefectural Government employees’ union… Read More

Shigeko Sasamori

Shigeko SasamoriShigeko Sasamori san was 13 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Hearing the sound of a plane, she looked up to see a B-29 flying overhead — seconds later she was knocked unconscious by the blast. When she came to, she was so badly burned that she was unrecognizable. Shigeko repeated her name and address over and over until she was finally found by her father. Years later she would travel to the United States in 1955 as part of a group of young women known as the Hiroshima Maidens. While in New York, she underwent numerous plastic surgery operations and met her adoptive father, Dr. Norman CousinsRead More

Nobuko Sugino new

Nobuko SuginoMs. Sugino was exposed to the atomic bomb at her house, located 1.3 km away from the hypocenter. Although she and her mother were trapped under the collapsed house, their neighbor helped them and they survived. Her elder brother, who was drafted into the military as a student, died in an explosion near the hypocenter. Her elder sister also passed away 20 days after the bombing due to severe burns. … Read More

Miyako Taguchi

Miyako Taguchi“My name is Miyako Taguchi. I am of the second generation of the nuclear bomb survivors from Nagasaki. Both my parents experienced extreme hunger, grief and horror due to the war and the nuclear bombing. I have deep respect for my parents not only because they have survived unspeakable conditions but also because they have become righteous persons regardless of their horrible experience. As their child, I believe, I have been given the responsibility to speak out for peace and nuclear abolition. Never we should repeat such immoral events, mass destruction and war, killing and making innocent people suffer both mentally and physically and forever contaminating our earth”… Read More

Toshiko Tanaka

Toshiko Tanaka“What kind of person did you image when you heard you were going to meet “a 72 year-old survivor of the Atomic bomb”? Do I look in better shape than you imagined? Until recently I never talked about my dire experience of the atomic bomb even to my own children. One of the reasons is because I always wanted to forget about it and wanted to live cheerfully with positive spirit. The other reason is I hated to make people sad when I talk about my experience. But I realized I can never get away from it.” Please visit Tanaka-san’s website for more information about her life and art. Read More

Setsuko Thurlow

Setsuko Thurlow“As a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I feel a powerful commitment to tell the story of Hiroshima. The survivors are getting old and passing away, leaving a smaller number of us. We feel it is imperative to tell the younger generation of that terrible dawn of the nuclear age. All of us are familiar with the scenes of devastation in New York following the terrorist attacks. But that devastation extended only several blocks. Imagine the devastation of an entire city”… Read More

Michiko Tsukamoto

Michiko Tsukamoto“I was born in Hiroshima in 1934, and when I was ten years old (Grade 5 in Primary School) I was evacuated to the remote island where my father was originally from. Both of my parents were teachers, however my mother left her job for the sake of me and my older brother and moved with us to the island. August 5 was my father’s 42nd birthday, and so my mother had travelled to Hiroshima to have a small celebration with him. My father never returned after leaving for work the next morning, August 6″… Read More

Koji Ueda

Koji Ueda“There are three Hibakusha in my family, namely my mother, my sister and me. My mother who was 26 years old at that time rescued the injured victims and escaped from the bombed city carrying my 2 year-old sister on her back. All of us strolled around where we had once lived near the center for few days after the bombing. My mother often told me that the scene at that time was not the scene of something on earth. The swollen faces could not be recognized due to the burns with 20-100cm burned skin dangling down from the top of the fingers”… Read More

Junko Watanabe

Junko WatanabeJunko Watanabe san is Chair of the Association of Hibakusha-Brasil Pele Paz. In 2008 both she and Mr. Morita traveled by Peace Boat to talk about their experiences in many countries. In Vietnam, For example, Mr. Morita and Ms. Watanabe interacted with the second and third generation of victims of Agent Orange… Read More

Reiko Yamada

Reiko Yamada“By the spring of 1945, the school children of Hiroshima city had been ordered to evacuate from the city for safety. Many children had moved to live with their relatives in the countryside. Those who did not have such relatives were taken by their techers to schools or temples in rural areas and lived together there. I was supposed to move to one such temple on August 9 with other pupils who were still remaining in the city”… Read More

Takahisa Yamamoto

Takahisa Yamamoto“When I was 16 months old, I was exposed to the nuclear bomb. Luckily, I was not in Hiroshima when the bomb was dropped. I arrived two days later when my mother entered into the inferno Hiroshima, carrying me on her back. My mother determined to find my father who stayed in Hiroshima city on that day. It was a desperate wandering for a mother and her child to find the one we loved from the piles of corpses. Later, we could reunite with my father who miraculously survived the bomb. Although he suffered from acute radiation syndrome, he did not come down with any serious disease”… Read More

Yasuaki Yamashita

Yasuaki Yamashita“When the A-Bomb fell on Nagasaki, August 9, 1945, I was 6 years old and living there with my family in a typical Japanese-style wooden frame house with sliding interior partitions (shoji) and exterior glass windows. Normally on a hot summer day I would go to the mountain with friends of my age to catch dragon flies and cicadas. However, on this day I was playing at home. Nearby my mother was preparing the mid-day meal. Suddenly, at precisely 11:02, we were blinded by an intense light like 1,000 simultaneous flashes of lightening”…. Read More