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Toda Shigemasa Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 3

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That was the first American I ever saw. However, I never felt resentment toward the Americans in a "You did this to me" way. Even now. I suppose particularly now that I've grown up and learned various things. I remember when everyone was excited about having "won" at Pearl Harbor and my mother just saying that "Japan is going to lose." I still don't know why she... Maybe it was a blind person's intuition. So I started to wonder if my father might still be alive. I just wanted to meet family. I knew my mother was dead. But someone else... I thought my father and brother might still be alive. So I went back to Arakawa and consulted there trying to find out the address of my father's family in his hometown. I'm not sure that we ever got the actual address but I was able to get there somehow. I didn't have any money so I had to sneak through the gate at Ueno Station. Before that I'd spent some time living homeless in the underground passages of Ueno... A lot of things happened... Anyway, I got on at Ueno headed for Tokushima, which is where my father was from. I intended to ride all the way there. Of course I still had no idea if he was even alive. It does say here on this document that he was alive, but I didn't know it at the time. In fact, he came to the orphanage to pick me up, but I'd already run away by that point. So I had no idea if he was alive. They kicked me off the train at Shimizu Station. They found out I didn't have a ticket. People need something to rely on. And I had nothing at the time. I could only rely on myself. Once I finally reached Tokushima I met my father and brother by chance in the street. There are only two times in my life that I've ever cried. Lying on the bed in the hospital when they told me my mother had died... and this time when I met my father and brother. That's it. Only those two times. In Tokushima I still had to deal with my burns. I was slow and it was hard to do agricultural work. They always ate udon noodles which was hard for me. Everyone worked together on these projects in the fields. Mostly building reservoirs and waterways for the rice fields. They still have them today. Just like the ones we built. It was a community effort and everyone said "You've got to help out too." But there's not much a 14 year old boy can really do... For lunch it was always udon. Handmade. Some of the noodles were thin, others thick. It tasted horrible. But the country workers would all eat three bowls each. They'd only let me have one. They always accused me of eating more because I ate so slow. But I was just having trouble eating it... ...and thinking how awful it was there... Eventually, my half-sister said that if life was too difficult in the country I could go live with her. Her husband was a good businessman. He had a company in Hitachi, Ibaragi Prefecture. So I went to help them. I became her husband's apprentice. ... The apprenticeship... For the first three years I was watching and helping then four more years of work. So a total of seven years. And this is something I really want to emphasize.... ...In the beginning, I'd used my old air raid bonnet to cover up my face. Once I got to Hitachi, I tied a towel around my head like this. Then... I went back to Tokyo. When I got back to Tokyo I eventually met my wife. And I was able to live my life without thinking too much about myself. It was thanks to all the people around me. But since my wife passed away I've had more time to reflect on my life. And to think about the air raid. For the first three or four years... After the war, they used the sirens to announce that it was noon. There was a noon siren everyday at 12:00. I would always think it was an air raid. I really suffered from that for about three years. And my burns took at least three years to heal as well. But somehow I made it to today. So that's one thing I'd like to emphasize to those watching... In my case, the fact that my face was the part of my body to be scarred was a big part of my handicap. But there are others. For example, I know a woman who lost her arm. Can people sympathize with that kind of a life? Could they have endured it for sixty-five years? Sixty-five years is a long time... No matter what your life was like...

Video Details

Duration: 7 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: Japanese
Genre: None
Views: 226
Posted by: japanairraids on Nov 25, 2010

Toda Shigemasa Interview, 21 November 2010, Part 3

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