Souls of Wood

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.



The Kanemoto’s sat on the cherry wood walkway for a portrait. Notice the glass paneling at the center-rear.  My father (second from left) is sadly all who remains from that generation. Circa 1928, Hiroshima, Japan.


Although aged and weathered, the sakura (Japanese cherry) wood upon which my ancestors sat upon for family portraits is unchanged. Even the glass paneling in the background is the same.


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.

Masako is trying to show how the atomic bomb’s shock wave lifted the ceiling up over a foot. It is repaired now but was left as-is for decades.
Masako in the process of trying to show how far the ceiling was lifted by the blast on August 6, 1945.

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.

One of the family treasures found during our journey to the family home in Hiroshima this month. Uncle Suetaro is going to war and his death.

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):

Grandmother Kono’s funeral at the house.  1954

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.

Early family picture in front of the house.  The entry is on the right.
My son Takeshi standing next to the Kanemoto name in front of the house just this month.  The entry can be seen behind him.

37 thoughts on “Souls of Wood”

  1. Seriously. I believe. Your family is so very handsome and beautiful. What a valuable treasure you have in these photographs. And now, your son has stood in and with your family home. THAT gives me shivers as well. Please keep writing more about this Mustang.Koji. It is fascinating and so incredibly wonderful.

    1. Thank you for reading the story, Chatter Master. While I am of a “scientific” mentality, these events were surreal. The most anguished find during our visit is yet to be written about.

      1. I am excited about your “find”. I’m sorry there was anguish in some of your trip. But I guess I’m not surprised because you went to some pretty emotional sites and are visiting emotional family history. Every time I see your uncle’s so young face it makes me cringe. The suffering every one saw…. and still sees.

        You may be scientific mentally, but you are spirit emotionally.

    1. Photoroach…! Long time. I’ve been absent from flickr as well due to this and that. Thank you for reading the story. Scanning and retouching old photographs have become all-encompassing for me since returning… Hope all is well at your end. 🙂

      1. hahahah we had to come home. After all we have four dogs at She is down in the Fullerton area. Quite a drive. Oh and actually I am the wicked step mother. Her mom lives down there. I don’t want to impose.

  2. Koji, I echo Chatter Master. I got chills and I totally believe. I’m so fascinated by this journey you’ve taken and all the answers you’ve gotten to your questions — and so grateful that you had Takeshi on your transformative journey!

    I went to Japan with my mom when I was 21 — it had been 35 years since she had been back! But that was just the beginning and I’m grateful for all of your help in MY journey too.

    It’s sobering to read about the atomic bomb blast from Masako’s perspective. Your family home is beautiful and serene.

    1. Hi, Janet. I hope all is well… Thanks for spending a moment here out of your daily busy schedule. I am so glad your mother made it back after all those years, too. I sure wish your dad made the trip as well.

      I thank you for your kind comments and also for allowing me to share in your family history, too. Great journey which you still need to complete!

    1. Thank you. That is my overall intent. My Uncle Yutaka (the tallest sibling on the left in the top photo) did apparently take copious notes but he passed away in 2000. If he did take such notes, they have disappeared. I wanted to ensure this record remains.

      1. Since school has started I have been having trouble in that area also! We are down to the 70’s every day now but looking at the forecast cracked us up this morning. 70’s all week and then Wednesday calls for a high of 32 with snow! LOL Welcome to Montana!

  3. Reblogged this on The Chatter Blog and commented:
    I am fascinated by my own family history. This man’s history is from a different “world” than my own. But our emotions and our attachments to our family history seem to mirror one another. His family suffered, as did the world. It’s a perspective we have all not paid attention to. He can teach us some things.

    1. Hello there, Mamo’s Mother… Always nice to have another member of Chatter Master’s family…especially you since she’s your responsibility. lol I hope all is well with you.

    1. Lexiesnana, thank you! For any home to retain its core character after nine decades is a miracle, isn’t it? But such homes like this are disappearing in Japan…

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