Archive for November, 2022

Yoshiro Yamawaki

Friday, November 18th, 2022

…Nagasaki…This morning I received the sad news that Yoshiro Yamawaki passed away on September 17th.  I photographed Mr. Yamawaki during my first trip to Nagasaki in September 2008.  His portrait is in my book, From Above, and has been exhibited several times.  He was the only hibakusha, atomic bomb survivor, during that visit who spoke to me in English.  He learned English when he retired so that he could communicate his experiences about the atomic bomb and educate more people about the dangers of nuclear weapons. 

Mr. Yamawaki was eleven-years-old when the atomic bomb was detonated over Nagasaki.  He was at home 2.2km from the hypocenter.  His testimony was about him and his brother venturing through a sea of rubble to find their father’s body at the Mitsubushi Steel Works Factory the day after the bomb destroyed the city.  The two young boys then had to cremate the body.  The next day they returned to the burned out factory to get the ashes, but because of the lack of wood the body wasn’t fully cremated.  They wept at the sight of their father’s lifeless body and vowed never to tell their mother they weren’t able to cremate his body. 

I only saw Mr. Yamawaki twice after my initial trip to Nagasaki.  He came to the exhibition at the Nagasaki Peace Museum in 2010 and the exhibition at the Peace Memorial Hall in 2017.  He was a true ambassador, and I wish more of the people we assign as diplomats would learn a lesson from his desire to communicate the truth about the suffering war and nuclear weapons cause.  I’ll always remember him insisting that he tell me his testimony in English.  His efforts educated everyone he spoke to, but the job of educating the world about the horrors of war and the use of nuclear weapons is far from completed.