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Kiyo-oka Michiko Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 3

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So we needed a place to stay that night.... Behind the temple there was an apartment building for the priests. It was a concrete structure. There was a lot of open space around the temple too, so it managed to remain standing as well. Some incendiaries had fallen there, but the priests managed to put them out. One of the priests was a man named Igarashi. He was a friend of my father's and his wife had always offered us a place to stay if we needed it. We had nowhere to stay, so we visited them. As soon as she saw us, Mrs. Igarashi invited us in. She gave us some rice to eat as well. We stayed there two nights. On the third day, I went to my place of employment to let them know why I hadn't come in for work. The Ginza subway line was running, so I took it to Kyobashi and walked to City Hall. When I got there, I saw that the commerce department I worked for had been hit and burned down. But there was a sign in the debris that said they were operating out of the Tokyo Kaikan building. So I headed for the Tokyo Kaikan building near the imperial moat. It was in the area where the GHQ buildings would eventually stand. Once I got there and explained my absence, everyone was aghast at my condition. I was still wearing the clothes I'd had on at the time of the raid. My face had burns.... Everyone was shocked. My maiden name was Sato. Everyone said, "Oh, we thought you were dead, Miss Sato!" because they knew how terrible the Shitamachi raid had been. Everyone was shocked at the state I was in, but they were very kind and encouraging too. Someone gave me some tickets for bread. When I got home, my father's cousin was there. He was a carpenter from Funabashi. He'd been coming everyday to search for my father's body. He told us that the bodies had been taken out of the river. My mother and I accompanied him to Sumida Park. The corpses had already been temporarily buried in a line there. One by one... It wasn't a mass grave. They were each put down in a line. And there were names written above their heads. My father and sister hadn't been burned. When they were taken out of the water, their names were still legible. In those days, we all wore tags with our names and blood type. So their names were written above their heads: "Sato Hatsue" and "Sato Iwaichi." Most of the other bodies were marked "Unknown." Particularly those that had been burned in the flames. There was no way to tell who they were. But we were lucky enough to find my father and sister. Of course, we hadn't been there to see them buried, so my father's cousin suggested we check. We borrowed a shovel from the Igarashi family and dug open the graves. They were very shallow. A burnt sheet of metal had just been placed over the bodies and dirt was piled on that. But it was my father and sister. Without a doubt. Both of their noses bled... They say that when a body meets it's loved ones, it's nose bleeds. Apparently it's true. My mother said she saw it. ... I cried enough for my entire lifetime right then. So, like Mr. Toda, I don't cry anymore. I decided not to. There were people in the park cremating their family members. We couldn't do that. Others were loading family members onto carts to take to a crematorium, but we couldn't do that either. All we could do was cut off a bit of their hair to take with us. And then we covered them back up. That night, Mr. Igarashi performed a funeral service for us at their home and we used my father and sister's hair clippings in place of the actual bodies. I suppose we were the only people of that whole tragedy to actually have had such a service performed. It was just impossible. But the Igarashi's home had remained standing and Mr. Igarashi was a priest. So we were able to have a proper funeral.

Video Details

Duration: 4 minutes and 55 seconds
Country: United States
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 436
Posted by: japanairraids on Nov 25, 2010

Kiyo-oka Michiko Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 3

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