Students in Japanese 4 and Japanese 4 Honors this week welcomed atomic bomb survivor Larry Miwa to their classroom. Although he was born in Honolulu, Miwa was raised in Hiroshima, Japan. His visit gave students the opportunity to experience a historic event though the lens of someone who lived it, and in Japanese.
His story began on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, as Miwa and his classmates were climbing a mountain outside of the city. The group of 20 noticed three B-29s approaching and watched them fly overhead. Two of the bombers quickly veered off, leaving one of the planes on a course to Hiroshima City. Moments later, a brilliant yellow light emanated from the city center. “I had never seen anything like that in my life,” Miwa said.
Ten days later, his teachers told him to find his family. The students listened intently as he recalled what it was like to set foot in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. “When I got to Hiroshima Station, everything was burned, everything was black,” he said. “In a city of 140,000 people, I was standing alone.” He walked through the death and destruction to his home, where he was reunited with his family, all of whom miraculously survived the bombing despite living close to the city center. “I was so happy to find them alive.”
The Miwas returned to Honolulu shortly after the War to rebuild their life. Their story was captured by author Tom Coffman in his book, “Tadaima! I Am Home: A Transnational Family History.”
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