They walked on it. They posed for family portraits on it. They passed away on it. It felt as if their souls were infused in it.
Although my ancestors have come and gone through that house for about a hundred years, the old sakura wood shared their souls with me.
While I am certainly not in the construction industry, my father’s family home is based on the Edo design era. Generally speaking, they are built on stone foundations, with supporting square timbers and a raised floor. “Tatami” mats were used for flooring.
My father, while now 93 and suffering from dementia, fondly recalled the floor plan of the Kanemoto house…especially of the main room seen the family portrait. He said it had a “tokonoma”, or a small alcove alongside the altar, or “butsudan”. He also clearly recalled the floor space measured by the number of tatami mats used; in this case, “hachijyou” or eight mats.
This is the room in which my cousin Masako “saw” Aunt Shiz a few days before she passed away.
The house was indeed damaged from the atomic bomb’s shock wave. This same shock wave shook the Enola Gay violently even while trying to escape the blast at about 30,000 feet altitude. She was 11-1/2 miles away.
The house is about 4-1/2 miles away by way the crow flies. Almost due west of the hypocenter. Masako was knocked down by the hard-hitting shock wave while in her classroom.
A low lying hill called Mt. Suzugamine served somewhat as a barrier, deflecting the shock wave. Still, nearly all of the sliding door panels were knocked down and the ceiling was sucked up more than a foot per Masako. Roof tiling was also blown away from the force.
My Uncle Suetaro took one of his last photos in front of this house in May 1944. My grandmother already had her stroke and is not in this photo but his sister, Michie, is standing to his right.
Grandmother Kono’s funeral in 1954; my father can be seen in the lighter suit to the left standing next to Michie and Masako (hidden by the flowers):
The home does have spirits within. It’s not cornball. It is an incredible sensation. We were called to those souls in the wood this month. Seriously.
When I saw my son in front of the home, I saw that I’m in the last half of my journey in life… but I came back to myself on that old sakura wood.