Sixteen contributors to “Children of the Atomic Bomb” visit special exhibition in Hiroshima

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

Sixteen people who were contributors to Children of the Atomic Bomb, a collection of personal accounts written by boys and girls that was published in 1951, six years after the atomic bombing, visited the Hiroshima National Memorial Hall of the Atomic Bomb Victims, located in the city center, on February 17. They took in a special exhibition which introduces this collection of A-bomb experiences and appealed for people to read the book of essays that conveys the bombing through the perspective of children.

Children of the Atomic Bomb was compiled by the late Arata Osada, a professor emeritus at Hiroshima University. The special exhibition is the first in connection with the book, an effort with an eye on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing in 2015. Among the 105 essays in the book, writings by 67 children, from the age of 4 to third graders in elementary school at the time of the bombing, will be shared through electronic displays. In these accounts, the children express their feelings in simple words, such as their sadness in searching through the scorched plain of the city for missing parents and their anxiety over losing their hair due to acute exposure to the A-bomb’s radiation.

The 16 visitors to the Memorial Hall are members of the “Oleander Club,” comprised of contributors to the book. Kiyotoshi Arishige, 76, a resident of Asaminami Ward, experienced the atomic bombing when he was in third grade. He lost his mother and sister in the blast, and recalled that his life started in hardship. Yasuko Oku, (maiden name, Wakasa), 73, a resident of the town of Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, was five years old at the time. She said, “My memories are still vivid, just as I wrote about my experience in my essay. I hope that people who read our accounts will feel what happened 69 years ago.”

The special exhibition runs through December 28. In 2015, the essays of 38 more contributors to the book, from fourth graders in elementary school to third-year students in junior high school at the time of the atomic bombing, will be introduced. Yuriko Hayashi, 77, the head of the Oleander Club and a resident of Asaminami Ward, said, “Our members have grown old, so I don’t know how long we can continue the club. But we would like to convey our messages as long as we live.”


Children of the Atomic Bomb
This collection of essays on the A-bomb experiences of children was compiled by Arata Osada (1887-1961), an educator and professor at Hiroshima University, and his students. There are 105 essays, written by elementary school students through college students. Published in 1951 by Iwanami Shoten, the book has had a long life, selling a total of 180,000 copies of the regular book version and 80,000 copies of the pocket-sized book version with two volumes. It has been translated into 13 languages, including English, Russian, and Indonesian.

(Originally published on February 18, 2014)