Book shows new side of Hiroshima suffering Book shows new side of Hiroshima suffering
Backstories

Book shows new side of Hiroshima suffering

    NHK World
    Correspondent
    A new book on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima focuses on one family's experience of the tragedy. The author says she hopes it will help underscore the value of peace and the human toll of nuclear weapons.

    The ordinary girl on the book's cover is Kimiko Suzuki. She lived with her parents, two brothers, and sister in Hiroshima. She was particularly close with her older brother, Hideaki. Together, they shared a happy, peaceful life.

    But on August 6, 1945, the atomic bomb ended it all. Kazu Sashida is the author of the book that tells the family's story.

    She first learned of the Suzukis three years ago when she saw their pictures on display at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

    "I wanted to create proof the Suzuki family existed, and were gone after the bomb," she says. "This kind of destruction must never happen again."

    Kazu Sashida, author

    Sashida started doing extensive research into the family, looking through countless photos.

    She was able to arrange a meeting with Tsuneaki Suzuki, a cousin of Kimiko's who owns a family photo album.

    Suzuki told her that Kimiko's father was a keen photographer. The family would go on outings, having picnics and playing at the beach, and he would take pictures the whole time.

    Over the course of several interviews, Suzuki recounted his memories of Kimiko and the whole family. Sashida says each time they met, she came away thinking she knew Kimiko and her family a little better. She wanted this deep connection to come across in the book.

    Over the course of several meetings, Tsuneaki Suzuki told Sashida about his cousin and her family.

    She says she wanted to focus on how the Suzukis lived. But she knew if the book was going to teach future generations about the cost of war, it would also have to show how they died.

    Rokuro Suzuki, Kimiko's father (left), and Fujie, her mother (right).

    When the bomb was dropped, Hideaki and Kimiko were at school. Hideaki carried his injured sister on his back for two kilometers.

    But the records of Kimiko end there. Hideaki died a few days later.

    Hideaki (left) and Kimiko (right).

    The father made it to a first aid center where he was treated for burns. But he died soon after.

    The mother managed to survive. But when she was told of her family's fate, she jumped into a well, killing herself.

    After years of hard work, Sashida was able to finally release her book. It was published in Japanese, with parallel text in English.

    "I want people around the world to know the story," Sashida says.

    Memories of ordinary families like the Suzukis are fading. But Sashida says she'll continue to do everything she can to make sure they aren't forgotten.