National / History | Regional Voices: Hiroshima

Belongings of student who perished in A-bomb attack, donated to Hiroshima museum

by Yumi Kanazaki

Chugoku Shimbun

Yoko Moriwaki, who was 13 at the time of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945, is known for the diary she kept until the day before the bombing. The diary is now a symbol of the weapon’s cruelty.

Her brother, Koji Hosokawa, 90, an A-bomb survivor living in Hiroshima’s Naka Ward, donated her uniform, air-raid hood, and distorted lunch box to the Peace Memorial Museum. Hosokawa had long kept these mementos of his sister at home. Given his advancing age, he decided to ensure they would be kept safe and secure at the museum in the years to come.

On Aug. 6, 1945, when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Moriwaki was a student at First Hiroshima Prefectural Girls’ High School who was helping to dismantle buildings to create a firebreak in Dobashi (now part of Naka Ward), about 700 meters from the hypocenter.

She was severely burned and died the same night. A total of 301 students and teachers from her school lost their lives in the attack.

Moriwaki had made her school uniform by hand, using cloth from her mother’s kimono. Patches that bear her name and the words “Student Corps” were sewn onto the uniform.

It is believed Moriwaki changed into her work clothes at the building demolition site, saving her uniform and air-raid hood from being burned in the attack. They were later found and passed on to her family by staff from the school.

Hosokawa found Moriwaki’s warped lunch box near the building demolition site with her chopstick pouch lying nearby, serving as a clue.

Hosokawa published the book “Yoko Moriwaki’s Diary” in 1996, which is still read today. The diary consists of entries made from the time she entered high school until Aug. 5.

The final entry said: “Tomorrow I’ll help clean up at the building demolition site. I will work as hard as I can.”

The diary, as well as the fountain pen used to write the entries, which Hosokawa kept, were introduced in a textbook for junior high school students. Four years ago, the diary was published in English in Australia, where it generated a strong response.

When the atomic bomb exploded, Hosokawa was about 1.3 km from the hypocenter and managed to survive. He later served as a peace volunteer, guiding visitors through the Peace Memorial Museum and sharing his own A-bomb accounts.

He has also dedicated himself to training the “memory keepers” who are inheriting the A-bomb survivors’ experiences and memories.

Through his work, Hosokawa has learned about the belongings of the victims and how they silently convey the cruelty of the atomic bomb, the chagrin of the victims, and the grief and sorrow felt by their families. And this is what finally prompted him to part with his sister’s belongings and donate them to the museum.

With the establishment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last year, visitors to Hiroshima from inside and outside of Japan are likely to increase.

“For us, the belongings of the A-bomb victims are not merely objects; they embrace the spirits of both the A-bomb victims and the people who value and cherish them,” Hosokawa said. “I hope that my sister’s possessions will remain etched in the memories of every visitor when they are exhibited at the museum.”

This monthly feature focuses on topics and issues covered by the Chugoku Shimbun, the largest newspaper in the Chugoku region. The original article was published on Dec. 31.