On Temma Bridge, the boys gathered,
listening intently to their teacher’s speech;
words designed to spur them to service.
When in an instant they were all burned;
they still found enough courage to sing.
The teacher, with Japanese resolve,
lead the boys to sing a patriotic song;
ironically called, “lay me beneath the waves.”
After shouting, “dismiss,” he led the way;
jumping into the waters at high tide.
The novel, Black Rain begins with this jarring account, perhaps to inspire the Japanese spirit, twenty years after the bomb was dropped. The details in regard to this incident, depicted in the opening scene are sparse. The reader must needs to fill in the gap with one’s own imagination. What went through the teacher’s mind, in those few moments, before it seems that he made an immediate decision to order his students to jump?
Japan was a feudal society until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The samurai spirit prevailed upon all of society a formality, and a code of respect and honor amongst every strata; and, continues to be found generations later in the Japanese way of life. Burned by the radiation from head to toe, the teacher and his students accepted their fate, like the staunch examples of their forbearers. The only survivor of that party, who lived to relate an account of this tragic event, died shortly later. Echoes of this blast, detonated on Hiroshima, warn against the inevitable destruction of warfare.