Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto

The historical book, Hiroshima, is written by American novelist and journalist known as John Hersey. He was born in Tientsin, China and raised there for ten years. He had learned to speak Chinese before he could speak English, but he and his family moved to the United States when he was ten. He had started his career off as a driver for famous author Sinclair Lewis, but he wasn’t very good at it so he moved on to writing articles and magazines. He had experience in World War II, tagging along with the Allies. After the war, he was in Japan to write about the reconstruction of Japan for his company. That is where he found a document by a Jesuit missionary who survived the atomic bomb. That missionary introduced Hersey to many survivors in which he would interview them for his book, Hiroshima. They had given him primary information that he used to write the book. He was already experienced enough to write the book since he had written many articles and essays for his job. He was a qualified journalist.

The book begins on the day when Hiroshima was destroyed by an atomic bomb. The United States dropped the bomb on the morning of August 6, 1945. A hundred thousand people were killed on that day and six survivors tell their story. It starts by introducing the six main characters of the book, recounting on what they did minutes or hours before the bomb was dropped. Their perspectives of the explosion were documented. The six characters are Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, Ms.Toshinki Sasaki, Masakazu Fujii, Hatsuyo Nakamura, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, and Dr.Terufumi Sasaki. The explosion happened at 8:15 when Ms.Toshiko, a clerk, was just sitting at her desk talking to her coworker. The bomb caused a bookcase to fall on top of her, making her pass out. She was very injured and was put into shelter along with two other injured people. Dr.Masakuza, a physician, was sitting on his private hospital’s porch at the time and toppled into the river by him. He is injured as he took shelter in the river with others. Later on, he made it to his parent’s house. Ms. Hatsuyo, a tailor’s widow, was letting her children sleep as the air-raid sirens sound. She thought that this was just another warning until the bomb striked, sending her into the next room in her house while her children were buried in debris. Her children were unharmed, and she took them to Asano Park. The fire soon spread toward the park and many people died in the river by drowning. Father Wilhelm, a German Jesuit priest, was at a mission house reading his morning Jesuit magazine in his room as the bomb struck. The mission house does not topple, however, he was thrown into the missionary’s vegetable garden with minor cuts. He tried to save a person, but his diarrhea got the man killed. Dr. Terufumi, a surgeon of the Red Cross Hospital, was in a train and survived the bomb with no injuries at all. He was lucky since he took an earlier train than usual because he couldn’t sleep the night before. He was the only doctor uninjured and goes to help people affected from the blast around him. Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi, the pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, was helping to move a friend’s daughter’s clothes. He was two miles away from the blast, and he was thrown against a wall with debris all over him. He was unharmed along with his wife and baby. On the night of the bombing, a ship tells people to wait for further help. Mr. Kiyoshi proceeds to help people as the others try their best to aid and survive. Everyone is confused on what to do next. They had both physical and mental injuries. A few weeks after the bombing, Father Wilhelm, Mrs. Hatsuyo, and Mr. Tanimoto become ill of radiation. Radiation affects everyone in the next months but as four months pass, each of the characters start moving on with their life. They continue it trying not to think of what happened. All of the characters were still affected from the bombing even when forty years had passed. All of them sustained permanent damage and even died earlier than they should’ve except Reverend Kiyoshi. The most important factor instilled within these characters throughout the book is fear.

Hiroshima was a mediocre book for to read. This book is strictly a documentary on the lives of people who survived during an atomic bombing. It puts you through the perspective of six characters and provides adequate information of the past. You will learn what happened in Japan and how the people responded to being blasted by a bomb that wiped out almost an entire city. As you read it, you will feel the pain and agony the people had. It is very detailed to the point where it feels like you could’ve been each and every single survivor in the book. There were tons of interesting quotes to find. This book had its good parts and bad parts.

There were four important quotes that caught many eyes in this novel. They explain some of the major themes in this novel. The first quote says, ”Kiyoshi Tanimoto, pastor of the Hiroshima Methodist Church, paused at the door of a rich man's house in Koi, the city's western suburb, and prepared to unload a handcart full of things he had evacuated from town in fear of the massive B29 raid which everyone expected Hiroshima to suffer.” The people of Japan were already living in the fear of attack, and they already knew that they were going to suffer. Fear stuck to everyone in Japan and influenced their actions and behaviors. It drove some of the six characters to continue while others were stunned. All six of the characters overcame their fears to survive. The second quote says, “When Mr. Tanimoto, with his basin still in his hand, reached the park, it was very crowded, and to distinguish the living from the dead was not easy, for most of the people lay still, with their eyes open.” Death was inevitable for these people. All that the survivors could see were hundreds of dead people on the ground and that huge impact on the mental minds of theirs. The survivors had to rely on hoping that they would live and get pass death. That was another factor in keeping them going. The third quote says, “Man is not now in the condition God intended. He has fallen from grace through sin.” This means that God intended for men to be good and innocent,but they fell through crimes. They caused this upon themselves and that is what got them into that condition. Religion is also what kept most the survivors going. People jump on faith for comfort and that is what Father Wilhelm, Ms.Terufumi, and Reverend Tanimoto had. The fourth quote says, “There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.” That stresses the impact that the bomb had as it dropped as it was caused by humans. They killed each other, and it was easy to forget about the people they killed due to technological advancement. The word “human being” was used because Hersey wanted to pull out a drop of humanity and emphasize it.

Hiroshima has succeeded in telling the stories of the survivors in my eyes. It was very detailed and accurate, and I can use this prove my newly learned knowledge of Hiroshima. I like how the author came back to Japan forty years later to add the fifth chapter and check up on the survivors he interviewed. There was a lot I disliked about this book though. It was very uninteresting for me, because it was a documentary, and it has no fantasy in it. It just isn’t my genre, but Hersey did a phenomenal job writing their perspectives of Hiroshima. He set the tone of humanity crashing as he started the book, and he used many conflicting words such has “human beings” as stated in the last paragraph. He was very keen on educating the public.

In conclusion, Hiroshima has slightly exceeded my expectations. Every part of it was filled with an immense amount of historical detail and the perspective of the characters was a great read. Their stories are what made the whole book. From the blast to surviving Japan, the people had fear and faith to keep them going.