There should never be nuclear weapons or wars, says Tomoko Kurita
Attendees offer prayers for victims of the US atomic bombing at Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 2021, as the city marked the 76th anniversary of the bombing.
Five days before the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Japan’s Hiroshima, the daughter of a survivor played the violin inside a church that was destroyed in the attack, to call for peace and nuclear disarmament.
Tomoko Kurita, a child of a Hiroshima atomic bomb blast survivor played the “Gigue” by German composer and musician, J. S. Bach, in Nagarekawa Methodist Church of Christ in Hiroshima, the Japanese language Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Aug. 1.
Kurita, 56, is a member of a Dutch orchestra. She was born in Hiroshima and is now settled in Amsterdam.
She says her solo performance at the church, about 800 meters from the epicenter of the explosion, was a call for world peace and an end to the nuclear arms race.
“I heard about atomic bomb experiences from my grandfather and others. There should never be nuclear weapons or wars. I played the music with a prayer for peace,” she told the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Some 80 members of the church and guests listened to her music in the building that was decimated by the bomb except for its exterior wall.
"Many people continued to die in the following months, from severe burns, radiation sickness and other injuries"
The violin used for the performance was reported to be owned by Sergei Palchikoff (1893-1969), a Russian music teacher at Hiroshima Jogakuin Girls’ school.
Palchikoff lived about 2.5 kilometers from the blast location and survived along with his violin.
The Hiroshima Nagarekawa Church has a history of 135 years. The first church was built in 1887 and it was replaced with a new structure in 1927.
The cornerstone plate with the inscription “AD 1927, Showa Ni Nen” (the second year of the Showa period) is now encased in a box and placed at the new church building.
At the end of World War II in 1945, the United States detonated two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — both having a sizable Christian community — on Aug. 6 and 9, respectively.
The blasts killed between 129,000 and 226,000 people in what has so far been the only use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict. Many people continued to die in the following months, from severe burns, radiation sickness and other injuries.
“Some parishioners lost their faith and left the Church"
In Nagasaki, the bomb exploded some 500 meters from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Urakmi, leaving the church almost destroyed. Hundreds of Catholics were attending a preparatory Mass in the church ahead of the Feast of Assumption on Aug. 15.
In 2020, on the 75th anniversary of the bombing, Archbishop Mitsuaki Takami of Nagasaki, recalled how local Catholics rebuilt their lives after the devastation.
“The loss of their house of worship built upon all kinds of sacrifices over thirty years on their part was especially spiritually damaging to them,” Vatican News reported Archbishop Takami saying.
The devastation of faith among the people was immense. “Some parishioners lost their faith and left the Church,” the prelate added.
In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, most victims died without any care to ease their suffering. Those who entered the cities after the bombings to provide medical assistance also died from the extreme levels of radiation.
The effects of the devastation caused by the atomic bomb is visible even today among the survivors.
Pregnant women exposed to the bombings experienced higher rates of miscarriage and infant deaths increased. Their children were more likely to have intellectual disabilities, impaired growth and an increased risk of developing cancer.
For all survivors, cancers related to radiation exposure still continue to increase, even to this day, seven decades later.
Christ calls, Asians respond is a new series of features that explore the life of individuals who discovered Christ in the face of misunderstandings and even opposition from those around them. Responding to Christ’s call these men and women have become beacons of inspiration for those around them. Read more about them here.
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