Densho Digital Archive
gayle k. yamada Collection
Title: Frank Fukuhara Interview
Narrator: Frank Fukuhara
Interviewer: gayle k. yamada
Location: Hawaii
Date: February 9, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-ffrank_2-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

gky: Okay, Frank, you're a Nisei in the Japanese army. Did anybody in the army know that you were American born?

FF: Yes. When I was in Hiroshima, right after I was drafted into the Hiroshima unit there, my company commander asked me if I would like to transfer to the next door company, and he said the next door company commanding officer is a Nisei, so I was kind of shocked 'cause I didn't think he knew I was Nisei. So I said no, but the company commander was a really nice guy, so I said, I've never heard of his name, the Nisei name. "I don't know him, but I know you and I'd like to stay with you." And it was lucky I did because when they transferred me to, our company to Kyushu, the Nisei company stayed in Hiroshima, so they're all gone, because our outfit was right in the center there, maybe five hundred yards, something like that from the center. So everybody died.

gky: When... you said there was all this weird kind of stuff happening and you were guarding the Kokura arsenal, but then they finally let you go. The Japanese army finally sent you back to Hiroshima, but you said that they didn't tell you the war had ended and it was September when you went back?

FF: Yes, I didn't know. They didn't tell me the war ended, but they said, "Go home, we'll pay you." So I got paid and I start going home, and then on the train going back, as we got nearer to Hiroshima city the passengers on the city said, "Where are you going home? Where are you going?" So I said, "I'm going home back to Hiroshima," and this lady said, "Oh, Hiroshima was treated very badly." And I said, "What do you mean?" And she said, "Some new bomb dropped and it's just wiped the whole city out." And I was really surprised to hear that, so I got worried, but it just happened on the way back from Kyushu to Hiroshima, we, our house was located about, oh, about a hundred yards north of the railway, so I decided to look out the window and see if I can find my home, and sure enough, my home was white, it was a white building, so it was there, so I felt released. And I couldn't tell details until I got home. After I got home I found out that all the windows, all the doors are all blown out, just the framework was existing. And my mother was sick from radiation, and my oldest brother Victor was upstairs sleeping by himself and he was also very sick. So then I knew how bad, because our house we moved to in '37 is about, located maybe two, two and a half miles at the very most from the center, but the house we were in was, was in about a half mile from the center. But that part was okay, but still... and my mother, the day the bomb dropped, my mother was supposed to, each house had to send out volunteers to work in the city, and they were tearing down houses in the city, and if you go and help them you can take home wood back home for firewood, so my mother decided to go. She had to go, anyway, but there was two shifts that morning. This is on sixth, sixth of -- well, U.S. time it might be the seventh. No, it would be the fifth, maybe. The sixth, actually, the atomic bomb dropped at 8:15 in the morning on the sixth of August 1945, but anyway, that morning she was going to go on the second shift to pick up some wood, but she got up early, so her, my mother and the girl that lived, sixteen year old girl that lived right across the street from us, said, "Let's have our shift changed to the later shift, to the earlier shift, go early and come back early." So they said, "Okay, you can leave on the early shift," so all of a sudden they decided to leave on the early shift. And they went into town, which was about, it takes about an hour to walk. Not, not, a little less. It wasn't close to the center, but not that far, about forty-five minutes from our house. They had to walk with this, what do you call, wheelchairs?

gky: Wheelbarrow.

FF: Wheelbarrow? It had two...

gky: A cart?

FF: Cart. Cart, manual type, and the, anyway --

gky: I'm sorry, can you describe again how they had to walk, with this cart to carry the lumber?

FF: Cart to carry the wood back.

gky: I stepped on you. Will you, will you say it again please?

FF: Yes, she, the two of 'em took care of one cart, and the younger girl was pulling side and my mother was on the pushing side. They went into town and helped tearing down the houses, and they loaded their cart and came back home. And on the way they met the second shift people going into town, and after they got back the people that were on the second shift, none of 'em came back. They couldn't find anything of them. Everything disappeared. So they were very lucky, but my mother had relatives right in the center of the town, so the next day, well, yeah, she came back and she was at the front door that day and washing her feet, foot with pump water, and as soon as she washed it she was ready to wear her geta, and the bomb dropped. And it, lightning, she said it was, big lightning went through and then a big noise went through, and then black rain started coming down, she says. That's, everybody was told in that neighborhood to go to, they had shelters, about two of 'em on every street, so she went to the shelter right away. And she said she stayed there about two hours in the shelter because the black rain wouldn't stop. And after about two hours it started stopping, so she went back in the house, and she found nothing in the house. She couldn't even walk in the house because glass was scattered all over. It was too dangerous for her to go in. So meantime, another hundred yards from our home, north, the highway, main highway was running, and my mother went out there and she found all these people in Hiroshima were marching out of the city, and that was about 10:00, maybe 10:30 in the morning, so she was, she watched them for a while and then she found out that she couldn't, they were all naked, but she couldn't tell if they were a man or a woman. But they were still walking and they're hollering and things like that, and she got scared. And she saw one person with rags hanging under her arms. She thought it was a rag, clothes, but it was skin. And she got really scared then. Then she was ready to go back home, and one of the ladies, it was a woman's voice, she said it was asking for water. So my mother rushed back, got a bucket full of water and went back out and she wanted to drink it, and she, as soon as she kept on drinking, and she just died at that spot, so my mother said no, no more water. But if she, she was still watching and people would come by and ask for water and things like that. My mother wouldn't give it to 'em, but they would drink the water in the gutter anyway.

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 2000 Bridge Media and Densho. All Rights Reserved.