Tsutomu Yamaguchi isn’t a name you’ll know, but his life was certainly an interesting one to say the least. When he died of stomach cancer in January of 2010, he was something of a celebrity in his home nation of Japan and in the United States. You see, Tsutomu had been in Japan during World War II and worked for the Mitsubishi Corporation. In the summer of 1945, the 39 year old businessman had been sent on a trip to visit a subsidiary factory in a manufacturing town. The Japanese military had suffered defeat after defeat by that point, and many in Japan thought that the war could not go on much longer. Sadly, the Japanese military had convinced the Emperor to continue the fight, and the result was suffering and destruction brought by the American dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
And, as fate would have it, Hiroshima was the city that Tsutomu was sent to by his employer. The bomb exploded above the city shortly after 8:00am Hiroshima time on August 8, and it caused either the immediate or eventual death of nearly 150,000 people. Tsutomu indeed suffered injuries in the blast; luckily, he was not closer to the bomb’s epicenter. He and two associates were to leave the city that morning and return home. The trio left their accommodations early and were on the way to the train station. However, Tsutomu realized that he had left some identification papers needed for travel behind him, and, telling his co-workers to go on ahead, he returned to get the papers. He had only stepped back outside when a blinding light exploded above him. He was thrown backwards immediately, and he was temporarily blinded. Radiation burns covered the top part of his body. He managed to crawl to a shelter and received treatment for his injuries there. Eventually, he managed to regain his eyesight and began searching through the destroyed city for his colleagues. He found them, and they stayed in a bomb shelter a night before leaving the catastrophic landscape of Hiroshima and heading out for their hometown the next day.
Despite the fact that he was still suffering from his radiation burns, Tsutomu reached his hometown and reported for work early on August 9, 1945. His co-workers were stunned when they saw him. They had heard about this new American superweapon and were eager to hear Tsutomu’s account of what happened on his trip. He was in the middle of the story that morning when he and his co-workers heard an air-raid siren. Suddenly, another blinding light came from outside, and another cacophonous noise followed.
Oh, by the way, Tsutomu’s hometown?