A Man Who Survived Both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombs

Tsutomu Yamaguchi (March 16, 1916 – January 4, 2010) was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II. Although at least 70 people are known to have been affected by both bombings, he is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both explosions.

Yamaguchi, a resident of Nagasaki, was in Hiroshima on business for his employer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries when the city was bombed at 8:15 am, on August 6, 1945. He returned to Nagasaki the following day, and despite his wounds, he returned to work on August 9, the day of the second atomic bombing. That morning, whilst being berated by his supervisor as “crazy” after describing how one bomb had destroyed the city, the Nagasaki bomb detonated. In 1957, he was recognized as a hibakusha (explosion-affected person) of the Nagasaki bombing, but it was not until March 24, 2009, that the government of Japan officially recognized his presence in Hiroshima three days earlier. He died of stomach cancer on January 4, 2010, at the age of 93.


Early life
Yamaguchi was born on March 16, 1916. He joined Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in the 1930s and worked as a draftsman designing oil tankers.

Second World War
Yamaguchi “never thought Japan should start a war”. He continued his work with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, but soon Japanese industry began to suffer heavily as resources became scarce and tankers were sunk. As the war ground on, he was so despondent over the state of the country that he considered killing his family with an overdose of sleeping pills in the event that Japan lost.

Hiroshima bombing


Yamaguchi lived and worked in Nagasaki, but in the summer of 1945, he was in Hiroshima for a three-month-long business trip. On August 6, he was preparing to leave the city with two colleagues, Akira Iwanaga and Kuniyoshi Sato, and was on his way to the station when he realised he had forgotten his hanko (a stamp allowing him to travel), and returned to his workplace to get it. At 8:15 am, he was walking towards the docks when the American bomber Enola Gay dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb near the centre of the city, only 3 km away. Yamaguchi recalls seeing the bomber and two small parachutes, before there was “a great flash in the sky, and I was blown over”. The explosion ruptured his eardrums, blinded him temporarily, and left him with serious burns over the left side of the top half of his body. After recovering, he crawled to a shelter, and having rested, he set out to find his colleagues. They had also survived and together they spent the night in an air-raid shelter before returning to Nagasaki the following day. In Nagasaki, he received treatment for his wounds, and despite being heavily bandaged, he reported for work on August 9.

Nagasaki bombing


At 11 am on August 9, Yamaguchi was describing the blast in Hiroshima to his supervisor, when the American bomber Bockscar dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb over the city. His workplace again put him 3 km from ground zero, but this time he was unhurt by the explosion. However, he was unable to replace his now ruined bandages, and he suffered from a high fever for over a week.

Later life
During the Allied occupation of Japan, Yamaguchi worked as a translator for the occupation forces. In the early 1950s, he and his wife, who was also a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bombing, had two daughters. He later returned to work for Mitsubishi designing oil tankers. When the Japanese government officially recognized atomic bombing survivors as hibakusha in 1957, Yamaguchi’s identification stated only that he had been present at Nagasaki. He was content with this, satisfied that he was relatively healthy, and put the experiences behind him.

As he grew older, his opinions about the use of atomic weapons began to change. In his eighties, he wrote a book about his experiences (Ikasareteiru inochi) as well as a book of poetry and was invited to take part in a 2006 documentary about 165 double A-bomb survivors (known as nijū hibakusha in Japan) called Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which was screened at the United Nations. At the screening, he pleaded for the abolition of atomic weapons.

Yamaguchi became a vocal proponent of nuclear disarmament. He told an interviewer “The reason that I hate the atomic bomb is because of what it does to the dignity of human beings.” Speaking through his daughter during a telephone interview, he said, “I can’t understand why the world cannot understand the agony of the nuclear bombs. How can they keep developing these weapons?”

On December 22, 2009, Canadian movie director James Cameron and author Charles Pellegrino met Yamaguchi while he was in a hospital in Nagasaki, and discussed the idea of making a film about nuclear weapons. “I think it’s Cameron’s and Pellegrino’s destiny to make a film about nuclear weapons,” Yamaguchi said.

Recognition by government
At first, Yamaguchi did not feel the need to draw attention to his double survivor status. However, in later life he began to consider his survival as destiny, so in January 2009, he applied for double recognition. This was accepted by the Japanese government in March 2009, making Yamaguchi the only person officially recognised as a survivor of both bombings. Speaking of the recognition, he said, “My double radiation exposure is now an official government record. It can tell the younger generation the horrifying history of the atomic bombings even after I die.”

Yamaguchi lost hearing in his left ear as a result of the Hiroshima explosion. He also went bald temporarily and his daughter recalls that he was constantly swathed in bandages until she reached the age of 12. Despite this, Yamaguchi went on to lead a healthy life. Late in his life, he began to suffer from radiation-related ailments, including cataracts and acute leukemia.

His wife also suffered radiation poisoning from black rain after the Nagasaki explosion and died in 2010 (age 93) of kidney and liver cancer. All three of their children reported suffering from health problems they blamed on their parents’ exposures, but studies suggest that in general the children of atomic bomb survivors do not have a higher incidence of disease.

Pittsburgh: the city of hills

The MarkoZen Blog

Being from Winnipeg, one of the flattest cities in the world, hilly cities have always intrigued me. I always thought San Francisco was the U.S. city with the most hills, but I discovered that Pittsburgh is even hillier than the California city.

The city of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, the United States, is located over an unruly terrain of hills, hollows, valleys and three intersecting rivers. Back in the late 19th and early 20th century, when Pittsburgh was growing as a coal and steel town, factory workers built houses in the hills rising above the flat riverbanks that were lined with factories. In order to commute to work, city officials and residents built staircases along the hillsides, originally of wood and later with concrete that ran up and down throughout the city.

Revered American journalist Ernie Pyle famously wrote about the city in 1937:

Pittsburgh is undoubtedly the cockeyedest city in…

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Bigfoot casts a long shadow in Native American lore and American frontier folk legend.


Mention the name Bigfoot and most people will picture the 1987 film Harry and the Hendersons. Or maybe the controversial 1967 clip shot by filmmakers Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, where a tall, hairy, bipedal ape — or a man in an elaborate costume, depending on whom you believe — strolled across Northern California’s Bluff Creek and into America’s pop culture consciousness forever.

But the story of Bigfoot started long before the monster-crazed years of the Atomic Age. In fact, the folklore of the frontier is rich with Bigfoot tales. Newspaper accounts from the 19th century are brimming with giant wild men, wood apes, and the like, many of which bear a striking resemblance to the descriptions of the creature that persist today — tall, hairy, bipedal, somewhere between a man and an ape, and, more often than not, stinky.

On the Tule River Indian Reservation, in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, a set of giant pictographs tells an even older story — the creation tale of the Yokut people and the gatekeeper of their spiritual world, a figure known as Hairy Man.

The pictographs feature a veritable mountain menagerie, including coyote, beaver, eagle, condor, and bear, all well-documented animals who also serve a supernatural role in the tribe’s origin story.

“They’re somewhere between 3,000 and 1,800 years old,” says Kathy Strain, Forest Heritage Resource and Tribal Relations Programs Manager for Stanislaus National Forest and author of Giants, Cannibals & Monsters: Bigfoot in Native Culture. “The Hairy Man is actually 8 feet tall.


“[The Yokut] believe when you see a Bigfoot, it’s not a good sign. It means he’s coming to take somebody who’s going to pass over to the other side. There’s even a Hairy Man song that women sing during a funeral, to make sure he does take that soul over.”

The Yokut aren’t alone either. You’ll find stories of Bigfoot-like creatures in the oral tradition of dozens of North American tribes under a slew of names — Sasquatch and Skookum among them — each ascribing slightly different qualities to the creature. For the Yurok and Karuk of northwest California, Bigfoot is just another denizen of the forest, worthy of cautious respect, just like a bear or a cougar.

But for the Me-Wuk of the Yosemite area, Bigfoot is a boogeyman — not unlike the witch from Hansel and Gretel — snatching children from their tribe and eating them. There’s even a place in the Stanislaus National Forest, Pinnacle Point Cave, where the tribe believes the Bigfoot consumed its victims.

“This cave really did have human remains in it that were excavated back in the 1960s,” Strain says. “And what’s interesting is that you have to actually rappel down into this cave to see it. So how did a tribe, that didn’t have any climbing equipment, have a traditional story that the cave had bones in it?”

If that’s not strange enough, the indigenous peoples of coastal British Columbia, nearly 1,000 miles to the north, share a nearly identical legend of the cannibal Dzunukwa, “The Wild Woman of the Woods” — often depicted on totem poles displaying a behavior that comes up time and time again in Bigfoot accounts: whistling.

“I’ve had many tribes tell me, ‘If you hear whistling at night, don’t go outside,’ ” Strain says. “Because that’s a Bigfoot trying to lure you out.”

The Pacific Northwest is filled with these intriguing tales, but look across the cultural landscape and you’ll find giant footprints everywhere.

Rachel Plummer was a white woman captured by a Comanche raiding party in Texas in 1836. Two years later, she was free and published an account of her time as a Comanche prisoner across the Southwest. Included was a detailed rundown of the animals of the prairie as shown to her by the Comanche, including prairie dogs, mountain sheep, elk, wolves, bears, and finally this: “Man-Tiger. The Indians say they have found several of them in the mountains. They describe them as being of the feature and make of a man. They are said to walk erect, and are 8 or 9 feet high.”

In Buffalo Bill’s autobiography, The Life of Honorable William F. Cody, he even mentions receiving a giant thigh bone from the Pawnee Indians of the Plains, who claimed it came from “a race of man … whose size was about three times that of an ordinary man.” They were not contemporaneous with Cody’s time, though — they were part of a creation myth that described a race of giants who were wiped out in a flood.

Buffalo Bill wasn’t the only frontiersman with such a tall tale. Daniel Boone boasted of killing a “yahoo” in Kentucky, an animal he described as a 10-foot “hairy giant.”

Even President Theodore Roosevelt had his own Bigfoot story, passed to him by a “weather-beaten old mountain hunter” named Bauman, and detailed in his book The Wilderness Hunter. Two mountain trappers walk into a wild and lonely mountain drainage in search of beaver, and — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — have their camp ransacked by a large bipedal animal with “a strong, wild beast odor.” Only in this case, Bauman’s partner ends up dead, while he hightails it out of the mountains, leaving his friend’s body behind to escape the “great goblin-beast.”

Perhaps the most fantastic Western account of Bigfoot took place in Oregon in 1924, when five gold prospectors claimed a family of “ape men” attacked them on the east side of Mount St. Helens.

Prospector Fred Beck insisted that he shot one of the Bigfoot in an initial encounter before a group of the beasts returned for revenge under cover of night — pelting the miners’ cabin with boulders, attempting to break down the door, and even knocking Beck out with a rock tossed through a hole in the roof. After sunrise, the attack stopped, at which point the prospectors made a run for civilization.

The story caused such a stir that even the U.S. Forest Service investigated it, sending two rangers back into the forest with Beck to find evidence.

“[A] ranger scrambled down the supposedly inaccessible canyon and found — nothing,” The Oregonian wrote.

The tale still resonates with those who believe, however, and the name Ape Canyon remains to this day on trail maps of the area.

Chase most of these stories and you’ll find nothing but questions and shadows. Buffalo Bill’s giant bones never made it to the Smithsonian. Ape Canyon was heavily damaged in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. And no definitive physical evidence has ever been found to support the existence of a large bipedal ape in North America.

Nevertheless, the stories endure. Wherever there’s wilderness or even a moderately thick stand of timber, from the swamps of Florida to the coastal rainforests of Alaska, you’ll find these Bigfoot tales. Passed down from generation to generation and recited around campfires, they make the woods around us seem deeper, darker, wilder — and a whole lot hairier.