by Shubha Bala, associate producer
Hibakusha: a Japanese term describing survivors of atomic bombs.
Terry Tempest Williams' use of this term during her interview with Krista came about quite unexpectedly. At the time, it seemed odd. But, it made more sense once she explained that nine women in her family have had mastectomies, the cause of which Williams attributes to an open-air nuclear testing site near her home in southern Utah, which she writes about with great emotion in "The Clan of One-Breasted Women."
The Atomic Bomb Survivors program categorizes hibakusha into one of three groups:
This classification seems rather sterile until you start reading the personal stories of hibakusha such as Hideko Tamura Snider, who was ten years old when the U.S. bombed Hiroshima. She shares the physical and emotional pain she experienced, and recounts trying to find her mother amongst the survivors:
"So I would announce my mother’s name and then say, ‘Oh, please answer me,’ and no one would answer but sort of stir … I want to see her, but I don’t want to see her in that condition. But if I can let her know that I love her and that I want to be there … so, just playing with magical things in my mind, I started to sing some songs that she taught me, that she loved hearing… So I said, ‘Please, God, carry this tune to my mother and comfort her, because I can’t find her.’ That’s when my feelings came back and I just cried and cried and cried."
About the image: Hideko Tamura Snider with her mother Kimiko Tamura. (photo courtesy of Hideko Tamura Snider)Comments