Nagasaki to the Bronx, A Message of Peace

By Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac
Tara MacIsaac
​​Tara MacIsaac is an editor and reporter who has worked on a variety of topics over the course of her 10 years with The Epoch Times, including science, the environment, and local New York news. She is currently working with The Epoch Times edition based in Southern California.
December 5, 2011 Updated: December 13, 2011
Epoch Times Photo
Yasuaki Yamashita tells a Bronx classroom on Monday about his experiences from the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)

NEW YORK—Yasuaki Yamashita survived the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on Aug. 9, 1945. He shared his story with a library full of teenagers at Jane Addams High School in the Bronx on Monday, one of 16 schools he will visit across the city with other survivors this week.

“If you can imagine, [it was like] 1,000 lightning [bolts] at the same time,” recalled Yamashita, who was six years old when the bomb dropped, destroying his home. “My mother put me down on the floor and covered me with her body … when we stand up, there is no window, there is no anything, just columns.”

Epoch Times Photo
Yarelys Vazquez Marquez, 15, folded 230 paper cranes out of the 1,000 her school made to send to Hiroshima, Japan. These cranes hang on the wall behind her. She holds up 1,000 paper cranes sent to her school in the Bronx by students in Hiroshima, an unexpected gift presented after atomic bomb survivors shared their stories at her school in the Bronx. (Tara MacIsaac/The Epoch Times)

His sister’s head was bleeding from shards of glass. His father died of radiation poisoning three months later. Yamashita is healthy, but he lived in fear of unseen repercussions that could pop up later in life.

After he graduated from high school, Yamashita worked for the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospital for 10 years. He provided a blood transfusion for a cancer patient whose blood type was the same as his. When the patient died, Yamashita thought, “this is going to happen to me one day.”
He quit his job, moved to Mexico City, and became an artist.

“Some people take life for granted,” said one student after listening to Yamishita’s testimony. 

The most important lesson for the students, according to Hiroko Sakaguchi, is one of peace and disarmament. She shared her story as the daughter of a Nagasaki bomb survivor and was happy to hear the students asking how nuclear weapons could be eradicated. 

Hibakusha Stories is sponsored by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, Mayors for Peace, the New York Theatre Workshop, Peace Boat, and Youth Arts New York. Hibakusha is a term for atomic bomb survivors. The only two atomic bombs ever used in war were those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, during World War II.

One student asked Sakaguchi if she resented America. 

“I consider this the result of engaging in war,” responded Sakaguchi with the help of a translator. “The decision made in the United States I don’t agree with, but I’m not against America as a nation or Americans as a people.”

​​Tara MacIsaac is an editor and reporter who has worked on a variety of topics over the course of her 10 years with The Epoch Times, including science, the environment, and local New York news. She is currently working with The Epoch Times edition based in Southern California.