Hiroshima

A widowed tailor, a mother of three, and one of the six central characters of Hiroshima. Mrs. Nakamura instinctively runs to take care of her three small children in the instant after the atomic blast, eventually guiding them to Asano Park, Hiroshima’s designated emergency area during the war. After the bombing, Nakamura struggles to support herself and her children—like so many hibakusha (survivors of the explosion), she’s discriminated against and generally viewed as an outcast. Nevertheless, Nakamura manages to find work in a chemical factory, and she succeeds in raising three happy, successful children.

Hatsuyo Nakamura Quotes in Hiroshima

The Hiroshima quotes below are all either spoken by Hatsuyo Nakamura or refer to Hatsuyo Nakamura. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Hiroshima published in 1989.
Chapter 1 Quotes

A hundred thousand people were killed by the atomic bomb, and these six were among the survivors. They still wonder why they lived when so many others died.

Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:
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The reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. She had taken a single step (the house was 1,350 yards, or three quarters of a mile, from the center of the explosion) when something picked her up and she seemed to fly into the next room-over the raised sleeping platform

Related Characters: Hatsuyo Nakamura
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

She would say, "It was war and we had to expect it." […] Dr. Fujii said approximately the same thing about the use of the bomb to Father Kleinsorge one evening, in German: "Da ist nichts zu machen. There’s nothing to be done about it."
Many citizens of Hiroshima, however, continued to feel a hatred for Americans which nothing could possibly erase. "I see," Dr. Sasaki once said, "that they are holding a trial for war criminals in Tokyo just now. I think they ought to try the men who decided to use the bomb."

Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 5 Quotes

The bombing almost seemed a natural disaster—one that it had simply been her bad luck, her fate (which must be accepted), to suffer.

Related Characters: Hatsuyo Nakamura
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
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Hatsuyo Nakamura Character Timeline in Hiroshima

The timeline below shows where the character Hatsuyo Nakamura appears in Hiroshima. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter One: A Noiseless Flash
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
...the same time, Dr. Masakazu Fujii is reading the paper in his hospital; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura is standing in her kitchen; Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest, is sitting in his... (full context)
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
...is coming for Hiroshima and advise civilians to go to their “safe areas.” Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow, gathers her three small children—a boy named Toshio, a girl named Yaeko,... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Around seven am, Nakamura wakes up to the sound of the siren. She runs to the home of Mr.... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
As Nakamura watches the man building the fire lanes, light flashes across the sky. Instinctively, she runs... (full context)
Chapter Two: The Fire
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Hatsuyo Nakamura crawls through the ruins of her house, toward her youngest child, Myeko. As she moves,... (full context)
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Nakamura’s neighbor, Mrs. Nakamoto (wife of Mr. Nakamoto), runs to the house and asks Nakamura if... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...former head of the Catholic priests’ Neighborhood Association is a man named Yoshida. As Mrs. Nakamura and her children, along with Father Kleinsorge and Mr. Fukai, run through the streets, Yoshida... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
...The park is far enough from the bombsite that its flora is still alive. Mrs. Nakamura and her children arrive at the park and later become so nauseated that they begin... (full context)
Chapter Three: Details Are Being Investigated
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Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
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On August 12, the Nakamura family goes to a nearby town to stay with Mrs. Nakamura’s sister-in-law. There, Mrs. Nakamura... (full context)
Chapter Four: Panic Grass and Feverfew
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Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
On the morning of August 20, Mrs. Nakamura complains of nausea and notices that her hair is falling out—a few days later, she... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
...pills, to no avail—his condition won’t improve, and his wounds refuse to heal. However, Mrs. Nakamura and Myeko, her daughter, seem to improve. Toshio and Yaeko lose some hair, probably because... (full context)
Religion Theme Icon
Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
Mrs. Nakamura has lost all her savings in the bombings, but she is able to petition the... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
One year after the bombing of Hiroshima, “Toshiko Sasaki was a cripple, Mrs. Nakamura was destitute, Father Kleinsorge was back in the hospital,” and “Dr. Sasaki was not capable... (full context)
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
Many Hiroshimans seems “indifferent about the ethics of using the bomb.” Mrs. Nakamura says of the explosion, “It is war and we had to expect it.” However, others,... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Religion Theme Icon
Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
One wonders how the children who survived the bombing will remember the day. Toshio Nakamura writes an essay for his teacher, in which he describes going for a swim the... (full context)
Chapter Five: The Aftermath
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Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
After the Hiroshima bombing, Hatsuyo Nakamura struggles to support her children. She repairs her sewing machine and earns enough to support... (full context)
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
...against the hibakusha, because they are believed to be sick and weak. During these years, Nakamura often tells herself, “It can’t be helped,” and maintains a strange sense of her own... (full context)
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In 1951, Nakamura is assigned to live in a brand-new house. This enables her to take better care... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
...pain, and in 1957, the government passes a comprehensive Atomic Bomb Victims Medical Care Law. Nakamura is now eligible for various free medical treatments, and—later on—monthly allowances. Over time, Nakamura’s children... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
In 1966, at fifty-five, Nakamura retires from the chemical factory. She’s earned a decent wage, and her children aren’t financially... (full context)
The Atomic Age, Politics, and Morality Theme Icon
Survival and Cooperation Theme Icon
Trauma and Memory Theme Icon
In the 1960s and 1970s, Japan’s economy is on the rise. Nakamura begins to receive more money from the government. In the fortieth year after the bombing,... (full context)