On August 9, just after lunch, we heard the news
that another New Style Bomb had hit Nagasaki. . .
I was dispatched immediately to the scene to take photographs.
Only twenty-eight years old and a staff photographer attached to the Western Corps of the Japanese Army, Yosuke Yamahata was one of three men assigned to document the effects of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.
He would be joined on his journey by Eiji Yamada, a painter, and Jun Higashi, a writer. Together they traveled by train to the northern edge of Nagasaki, arriving before dawn on August 10, less than twenty-four hours after the bomb had been dropped.
The three men then walked through the darkened ruins to a military police headquarters not far from Nagasaki harbor. As the sun rose, Mr. Yamahata began to photograph.
He made his way on foot from the southern boundary of the destruction through the radioactive area that had been directly beneath the fireball. One survivor remembers him as "a very tall man methodically taking pictures. "
By late afternoon, he had taken his final photographs near a first aid station north of the city. In a single day, he had completed the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Mr. Yamahata became violently ill on August 6, 1965,
his forty-eighth birthday and the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of
Hiroshima. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the duodenum, probably
the residual effects of radiation received in Nagasaki in 1945. He died
on April 18, 1966, and is buried at Tama Cemetery, Tokyo.
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