Before the city of Hiroshima turned into atomic ashes, I was a rambunctious little boy of age 8, clothed in a “blue kimono”. I often stood and watched as grown-ups played a Japanese chess game called “Shogi”. What fascinated me was that each player took so much time before he made a “move”, as in a defensive or offensive relay mechanism, formulating strategies about which I had no idea. Each subsequent move, in turn, followed similar “patterns”. In my naivety, I understood the ultimate goal of the game to be the capture of the opponent’s “Oh`-san”, or King.
Several times I asked my Daddy about the game’s meaning and he finally responded to me. “Takashi,” he said. “In any situation, samurai always find a way to ‘live’.” I was somewhat flabbergasted, for the only thing that stuck in my heart was something totally unrelated, and his answer was completely unexpected. I thought he didn’t understand my question and I never understood the intended meaning of his answer.
In retrospect, I wondered so often whether or not my Father had some inexplicable sixth sense in his reply to my innocent question? As an older generation, we know, and you, the younger generation, should know a proverb of wise ancients which states: the mystical and legendary “mushi” (a small insect) will foretell the coming of a catastrophic event. Could it be? My heart filled with uneasiness being unable to understand what my daddy had said.
Then, only two days later… August 6, 1945… America turned the City of Hiroshima, Japan, into atomic ashes, plunging it into a totally “UNKNOWN” world never experienced by mankind! Four square-miles of the city were instantly buried under nuclear ash, suffering and death. There weren’t enough living to count the dead! But for me, the greatest loss was when I had to say to my daddy, who without my knowing it had foretold the day which forever remains in my memory: “So long…rest in peace!” I lost six members of my family, but I survived having been 1,164 meters—7/10th of a mile from ground zero of the bomb. Since I buried my Father, I never had the luxury of time to cry or worry what “tomorrow” might bring, to live with “what if/what might be” concerns, or fears and worries about death for the next 10 years, let alone 20 years, as many folks of Tohoku Regions are concerned. Surviving each day was the only thing there was to overcome!
Reflecting upon my long and difficult “path” from Hiroshima, I am able to say that my Father’s teaching of the samurai code and the principles of Shogi, which undergirded me, have caused, shaped and directed my life to where I am today! Life wasn’t easy, but something was revealed to me about hardships and struggles. I have lived through it, and how grateful I am for the gift of life.