Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, on an official visit when the United States dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. The next day he was going to visit Nagasaki, where he would suffer another Atomic Bombing in three days.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi
Tsutomu Yamaguchi Credits:Reuters

Tsutomu Yamaguchi story

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings during World War II. There were at least 70 people affected by both bombings, but Yamaguchi is the only person to have been officially recognized by the government of Japan as surviving both explosions.

Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, credit: Wikipedia

“I didn’t know what had happened, I think I fainted for a while When I opened my eyes everything was dark, and I couldn’t see much. It was like the start of a film at the cinema before the picture has begun when the blank frames are just flashing up without any sound.” Tsutomu Yamaguchi told the British newspaper, The Times.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi lived and worked in Nagasaki, but he was in Hiroshima for his business trip which was 3 months long. On August 6 he was preparing to leave the city with two of his colleagues, Akira Iwananga and Kyniyoshi Sato.

After reaching the station Yamaguchi realized that he had forgotten his Hanko (travel stamp) and returned to his office to get it. As he was walking by the docks the American Bomber Enola Gay dropped the Little Boy atomic bomb near the center of the city. Only 3 km away from him, the explosion ruptured his eardrums and blinded him temporarily, the explosion also left him with serious burns over the left side of the top half of his body.


How did Tsutomu Yamaguchi survive?

Yamaguchi somehow managed to crawl to a shelter, where he spent the night in an air-raid-shelter before returning to Nagasaki the following day. In Nagasaki, he received treatment for his wounds and, despite being heavily damaged reported for work on August 9.

Tsumotu Yamaguchi
Tsutomu Yamaguchi now

Little to his horrors, at 11 AM on August 9, the American bomber Bockcar dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb over the city, but this time he was unhurt from the explosion. However, the double exposure to radiation took a toll on him and he fell seriously ill in the following days.

Yamaguchi refused to talk about the experience much of his life, opening up only in the 2000s, when he decided to wrote a memoir and spoke about nuclear disarmament before the United Nations.


Tsutomu Yamaguchi lost hearing in his left ear in the explosion, he died on January 4, 2010, in Nagasaki at the age of 93.

Some would consider Yamaguchi a lucky man but BBC comedy program QI referred to him as the most Unluckiest Man in the World. The show host made a joke by asking if the bomb had “landed on him and bounced off”. However, later the show was deleted by the BBC stating that the content was not appropriate.

A year before his death, Yamaguchi was recognized by the Japanese government as “nijyuu hibakusha” or “twice bombed person”. Yamaguchi wrote a book about his experiences Ikasareteiru inochi and was invited to take part in a 2006 documentary about 165 double A-bomb survivors called Twice Survived: The Doubly Atomic Bombed of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Do you consider Yamaguchi lucky or unlucky? Read about Roy Sulivan, the guy who got hit by lightning 7 times and survived.


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