Takashi Nagai

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Takashi Nagai
Paul Takashi Nagai in 1946.gif
In mourning for his wife (1946)
Born (1908-02-03)February 3, 1908
Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture
Died May 1, 1951(1951-05-01) (aged 43)
Nagasaki, Japan
Nationality Japan
Fields radiology

Takashi Nagai (永井 隆 Nagai Takashi?, February 3, 1908, Matsue – May 1, 1951, Nagasaki) was a physician specializing in radiology, a convert to Roman Catholicism, and a survivor of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. His subsequent life of prayer and service earned him the affectionate title "saint of Urakami".

Life[edit]

Early years[edit]

Takashi Nagai was born in 1908 on February 3 (February 2 according to occidental time) after a difficult birth that endangered both his own and his mother’s life. His family included doctors. His father, Noboru Nagai, was trained in Western medicine; his paternal grandfather, Fumitaka Nagai, was a practitioner of traditional herbal medicine.[1] His mother, Tsune, was the descendant of an old family of samurai. In Japanese, Takashi means “nobility”.

Nagai was raised in the rural area of Mitoya according to the teachings of Confucius and the Shinto religion. In 1920, he commenced his secondary studies at Matsue High school boarding at his cousins’ home, not far from Matsue. Occidental science and the materialistic spirit were dominant among his professors. He became impregnated with the surrounding atheism. But at the same time, there was a Christian teacher named Takeo Matsubara at high school. Nagai heard the story about Christ from this teacher for the first time.[2]

Life in Nagasaki[edit]

In April 1928, he joined the Nagasaki Medical College. The reason he chose the college is unclear because neither Nagai himself did say clearly to his parents, siblings、friends and classmates nor write anything about it.[3][4] However, according to the accounts of Hajime Nagai, his younger brother, while Nagai’s classmates rumored that Nagai would go to Tokyo University. But Nagai said to them that he wanted to go to Nagasaki because there is a possibility to become a professor.[5] It is also said that Nagai was fascinated with the exotic attractions of Nagasaki.[6]

It was during these studies that he embarked upon the spiritual journey that eventually led him from atheism to Catholicism. The college was located 500 meters from Urakami Cathedral, but Nagai had faith only in man, patriotic values, science and culture. He belonged to the branch of Araragi, a group of tanka (short poems) found by Mokichi Saito[7] and the university basketball team (he measured 1.71 m and weighed 70 kg).[8]

In 1930, a letter from his father informed him that his mother was seriously ill: a victim of brain haemorrhage, she was conscious but did not speak any more. He went to her bedside. She looked intensely into his eyes and died soon after (March 29). Takashi remained upset and believed in the existence of the soul; his mother remained present in his mind. One of his professors spoke about the philosopher and scientist Blaise Pascal, quoting a sentence from the Pensées: "Man is only a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed." He began then to read the Pensées and think about human life. Gradually he changed, becoming more sensitive. In his third year of medical school, he was surprised by the stiff attitude of the professors at the bedsides of their patients.

During 1931, he constantly read Blaise Pascal and wondered about the life of Christians and prayer. He became interested in Christianity while boarding with the Moriyama family, who for seven generations had been the hereditary leaders of a group of Kakure Kirishitans in Urakami. Sadakichi Moriyama lived with his wife and daughter. Their only daughter, Midori, was a primary school teacher in a nearby city. Takashi learned that the construction of the cathedral was financed by the poor Christian farmers and fishermen.

In 1932, he passed his examinations. He was supposed to deliver an address in a graduation ceremony, but 5 days before the ceremony, he drunk in a farewell party held at a Chinese restaurant ”Tsutenkaku” and returned to his room in rain drenched to the skin. He slept without drying himself.[9] Next morning, Nagai had a disease of the right ear (signs of meningitis) which saddened him and made him partially deaf. He could not practice medicine and agreed to turn to radiology research.[10] At the time, as he was aware, safety standards were poorly understood, leading to a high casualty rate from radiation exposure among practitioners of the field.

In the evening of December 24, Sadakichi Moriyama invited him to participate in midnight Mass.[11] In the packed cathedral, Takashi was impressed by the people in prayer, their singing, their faith and the sermon. He would later say: "I felt Somebody close to me whom I did not still know." The next night, Midori was struck down by an acute appendicitis. Takashi made a quick diagnosis, telephoned the surgeon at the hospital and took Midori there on his back through the snow. The operation was successful; Midori was safe.

In January 1933, Takashi began his military service. Before leaving for the campaign of Manchukou, he did his training in Hiroshima during which a package was sent to him: it was Midori who offered him gloves, socks and a Catholic catechism.[12] During this period in Manchuria, Takashi took care of wounded persons and of the sanitary service. He was strongly shaken in his faith in Japanese culture when he saw the exactions and the brutality of the Japanese soldiers on the Chinese civil population. On his return, he continued his reading of the Catholic catechism, the Bible, and the Pensées of Blaise Pascal, and met a priest, Father Matsusaburo Moriyama, the first son of Jinzaburo Moritya[13] who was deported to Tsuwano(Shimane Prefecture)for his faith with many other Christian villagers in Urakami by the Meiji Government from the 1860s to 1870s (Urakami Yoban Kuzure). Midori continued to pray for him. Eventually, his progress took a decisive turn when he thought attentively about Blaise Pascal's words: "There is enough light for those who wish only to see, and enough darkness for those who have an opposite mood."

Conversion to Catholicism[edit]

On June 9, 1934, he received baptism in the Catholic faith and chose the Christian first name, Paul. Thus he joined the Catholic community, among whom the life of the Japanese saint Paul Miki strongly marked him. Then he asks Midori's hand in marriage and she accepted. In August 1934, a Wednesday, at 7 a.m., during the usual first mass in the cathedral of Urakami, their wedding was celebrated in the presence of the priest and of two witnesses. Maria Midori Moriyama and Paul Takashi Nagai started their common life on the road to Eternity. Of their union were born four children: a boy, Makoto (April 3, 1935 - April 4, 2001) and three daughters, Ikuko (July 7, 1937 - 1939), Sasano who died shortly after her birth and Kayano (August 18, 1941 – February 2, 2008).

Takashi received the sacrament of confirmation in December 1934. Midori was president of the association of the women of the Urakami district. Takashi became a member of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVDP), discovered its founder and his writings (Frédéric Ozanam), and visited his patients and the poor, to whom he brought assistance, comfort and food.

From 1931 to 1936, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe resided in a suburb of Nagasaki, where he started a monastery. Takashi met him several times.

Sino-Japanese War[edit]

The day after the birth of his first daughter Ikuko, the war between Japan and China broke out with no declaration. Takashi was mobilized as surgeon in the service of the 5th division. He suffered from the harsh winter in China but also in view of the distress of all victims of this war (civilians and soldiers, Chinese and Japanese), taking care of wounded persons and thinking about justice and peace. In 1939, he received by mail news of the death of his father (in February 4) and that of his daughter Ikuko. He remained in China until 1940. On his return, he went to the grave of his parents. On the station platform of Nagasaki he found his son, accompanied by a friend. He had difficulty in recognizing him: Makoto had changed! Then he began again his researches and his courses at the college.

World War II[edit]

Japan having declared the war on the United States, on December 8, 1941 Professor Nagai had a somber presentiment: his city could be destroyed during this war. He obtained his doctorate in 1944. On April 26, 1945, an air raid on Nagasaki left numerous victims. The hospital was overwhelmed. Takashi spent his days and nights serving wounded persons in his radiology department.

In June 1945, he was diagnosed with leukemia and given a life expectancy of three years.[14] This disease was probably due to his exposure to X-rays during radiological examinations which he performed by direct observation, since films were not available any more during this war period. He spoke to Midori about his disease, she said to Nagai, “Whether you live or die, it is for God’s glory”.[15] With their faith in God, they remained united to live together this event.

In the evening of August 6, Doctor Nagai learned that an atomic bomb had been dropped by the Americans on Hiroshima. With Midori, he decided to take their children away to Matsuyama, 6 km away in the countryside, accompanied by Midori's mother. In the morning of August 8, under the smiling glance of Midori, Takashi left for his work and night duty at the hospital. Having forgotten his lunch, he returned home unexpectedly saw Midori in tears.

Relief Activities[edit]

On August 9, 1945, at 11:02 am, the second atomic bomb launched by the Americans on Japan struck Nagasaki. At the time of the atomic bombing, Dr. Nagai was working in the radiology department of Nagasaki Medical College Hospital. He received a serious injury that severed his right temporal artery, but joined the rest of the surviving medical staff in dedicating themselves to treating the atomic bomb victims, and later wrote a 100-page medical report about his observations.

On August 11, Takashi Nagai found his house destroyed and, among a heap of ashes, burnt bones: Midori and her rosary close to her. Her maiden name was Maria Midori Moriyama. Paul Takashi Nagai had her married name inscribed on the cross at her grave: "Marina Nagai Midori, died on August 9, 1945, at age 37" (Marina being a diminutive of Maria).

On September 8, 1945, Takashi Nagai was found to be seriously affected by the wound. He was confined to bed for a month, with death for a time seeming close. The bleeding from his injury did not stop despite the efforts of doctors and nurses. Even Nagai had Cheyne-Stokes respiration, the sign of near death. Eventually, his bleeding was miraculously stopped. According to Nagai, when he drank water taken from Lourdes in Honkawachi, where Fr. Maximillian Kolbe found a monastery, he heard a voice urge him to ask an intersession from the priest.[16]

Postwar years[edit]

He returned to the district of Urakami (the hypocenter of the bomb) on October 15, 1945. He had a small hut built from pieces of his old house. He remained there with his two surviving children (Makoto and Kayano), his mother-in-law and two other relatives.[17] This hut measured a little more than six tatami. In 1947, the local Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVDP) built a simple two-tatami teahouse-like structure for him. Nagai named it "Nyokodo" (如己堂, Nyoko-dō to, literally "As-Yourself Hall", after Jesus' words "Love your neighbor as yourself"). He styled there as a hermitage and spent his remaining years in prayer and contemplation.[18][19][20]

Nyoko-do Hermitage, Nagasaki

For six months, he observed mourning for Midori and let his beard and hair grow. On November 23, 1945, a mass was celebrated, in front of the ruins of the cathedral, for the victims of the bomb. Takashi gave a speech filled with faith, comparing the victims to a sacred offering to obtain peace. In the following years, Nagai resumed teaching and also began to write a number of books. The first of these, The Bells of Nagasaki, was completed by the first anniversary of the bombing; although he failed to find a publisher at first, eventually it became a best-seller and the basis for a top box-office movie in Japan. In July 1946, he collapsed on the station platform. Now disabled, he was henceforth confined to bed.

In 1948, he used 50,000 yen paid by "Kyushu Times" to plant 1,000 three-year-old cherry trees in the district of Urakami to transform this devastated land into a "Hill of Flowers". Even though some have been replaced, these cherry trees are still called "Nagai Senbonzakura" (1,000 cherry trees of Nagai) and their flowers decorate the houses of Urakami in spring. By 2010, the numbers of these cherry trees have reduced to only about 20 due to aging and other causes.[21]

On December 3, 1949, he was made freeman of the city of Nagasaki.[22] He received a visit from Helen Keller in October, 1948. He was also visited, in 1949, by Emperor Hirohito and by Cardinal Gilroy, emissary of the Pope.

Death[edit]

On May 1, 1951, he asked to be transported to the college hospital so that the medical students could observe the last moments of a man preparing to die from leukemia. He prolonged the day of hospitalization to wait for the statue of Our Lady, a gift from the Italian Catholic Medical Association.[23]

Until the evening, his condition seemed stable. However, around 9:40pm, Nagai complained his dizziness and become unconscious. After two injections of cardiotonics, he regained his consciousness and prayed “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, into your hands, I entrust my soul”. Then he took the cross from the hand of his son Makoto who rushed into the room and shortly after he shouted the words “Please pray!”, Nagai breathed his last: it was 21:50 pm.[24] He died at the age of 43. On the following day, his body underwent an autopsy at the hospital according to his will.[25] His spleen had swelled to 3,410g(normal weight: 94g), his Liver weighed 5,035g(normal weight: 1,400g).[26]

On May 3, his funeral Mass was said by Bishop Paul Aijiro Yamaguchi in front of the cathedral.[27] On May 14, an official ceremony took place in memory of Doctor Nagai. About 20,000 persons attended. The city of Nagasaki observed one minute of silence while the bells of all the religious buildings rang.[28] and his remains were interred in the Sakamoto international cemetery.[29]

Awards, honors and tributes[edit]

His "Nyokodo", with the addition of a library, became a museum in 1952: "Nagasaki City Nagai Takashi Memorial Museum". After restoration in 2000, it is managed today by Tokusaburo Nagai, grandson of Takashi Nagai and son of Makoto Nagai.

There is another museum “Dr. Takashi Nagai Memorial Museum” in Unnan City, Shimane Prefecture where Nagai spent his childhood.[30]

In 1991, old Mitoya-cho found “the Takashi Nagai Peace Award”. Unnan City succeeds the award and invites annually writings and essays on “love” and “peace” from all over Japan.[31]

In Nagasaki, with the purpose of annual awarding for individual and/or organizations both domestically and overseas, for their contributions to world peace through the improvements and developments of medicare for hibakusha and related social welfare, the Takashi Nagai Memorial Nagasaki Peace Award was found[32]

On April 1, 2003, for the succession of Nagai’s spirit and the center to offer medical care for domestic and overseas hibakusha, Nagai Takashi Memorial International Hibakusha Medical Center was founded at Nagasaki University Hospital.[33]

Shunichi Yamashita, the director of the center,[34] who was appointd as an adviser to Fukushima prefecture on radiation exposure after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster[35] wrote; “I myself is just a younger alumnus of the same university, I found Nagai Takashi Memorial International Hibakusha Medical Center at Nagasaki University Hospital. Furthermore, by founding the Takashi Nagai Memorial Nagasaki Peace Award as an international activity of Nagasaki Association for Hibakushas' Medical Care, I am making an effort in order to honor the doctor for a long time succeeding the last wishes of those who knows the doctor like the late Soshino Hisamatsu, the director of nursing service department.[36]

In Korea, Most Rev. Paul Moon-hee Rhee, then Archbishop of Daegu found the Korean Association of “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” in 2004.[37]

Thought[edit]

Use of Nuclear Power[edit]

While Nagai denied the use of nuclear weapons, he still hoped the use of atomic energy for peaceful purpose. At the end of “Atomic Bomb Rescue and Relief Report”, he writes;

“We should utilize the principle of the atomic bomb. Go forward in the research of atomic energy contributing to the progress of civilization. A misfortune will then be transformed to good fortune. The world civilization will change with the utilization of atomic energy. If a new and fortunate world can be made, the souls of so many victims will rest in peace[38]

Works[edit]

He left behind a voluminous output of essays, memoirs, drawings and calligraphy on various themes including God, war, death, medicine, and orphanhood. These enjoyed a large readership during the American Occupation of Japan (1945–1952) as spiritual chronicles of the atomic bomb experience.

Nagai's books have been translated into numerous languages, including Chinese, Korean, French, and German. Only three of his literary works are currently available in English: We of Nagasaki, a compilation of atomic-bomb victim testimonies edited by Nagai; The Bells of Nagasaki (trans. William Johnston); and Leaving My Beloved Children Behind (trans. Maurice M. Tatsuoka and Tsuneyoshi Takai). His works were recently republished in new Japanese editions by Paulist Press.

Much of Nagai's writing is spiritual, consisting of Christian reflections on the experience (or, just as often, imagined future experience) of himself and the people around him, especially his children, in the aftermath of the war. His intensely personal meditations are often addressed to his children or to God, and he works out his own spiritual issues on the page as he writes in a visceral and uncensored prose. Nagai's more technical writings, in Atomic Bomb Rescue and Relief Report (Nagasaki Idai Genshi Bakudan Kyuugo Houkoku), were discovered in 1970.[39]

Bibliography[edit]

Writing[edit]

  • The Bells of Nagasaki (長崎の鐘 Nagasaki no Kane), August 1946.

"Records of the Atomic Wasteland" (原子野録音 "Genshiya Rokuon"), a series in the Japanese journal “The Knights of the Immaculata” (聖母の騎士 Seibo no Kishi), 1947–1951.

  • For That Which Passeth Not Away (亡びぬものを Horobinu Mono O), 1948.
  • The Rosary Chain (ロザリオの鎖 Rozario no Kazari), 1948.
  • Leaving These Children Behind (この子を残して Kono Ko o Nokoshite), 1948.
  • The River of Life - The Stories of Radiation Disease (生命の河-原子病の話 Seimei no Kawa- Genshibyō no Hanashi), 1948.
  • The Flower-Blooming Hill (花咲く丘 Hana Saku Oka), 1949.
  • My Precious Child (いとし子よ Itoshi Ko Yo), 1949.
  • The Otome Pass (乙女峠, Otometōge), 1951.
  • Nyokodō Essays (如己堂随筆 Nyokodō Zuihitsu), 1957.
  • Village Doctor (村医 Son-i), 1978.
  • Tower of Peace (平和塔 Heiwa no Tō), 1979.
  • Flowers of Nagasaki (長崎の花 "Nagasaki no Hana"), Daily Tokyo Times series, 1950.

NOTE: Dates of publication do not reflect the order in which the works were written; some were published posthumously, and all have been subsequently re-compiled for the Paulist editions.

Translation[edit]

Editing and Writing[edit]

  • Living Beneath the Atomic Cloud: The Testimony of the Children of Nagasaki. (原子雲の下に生きて Genshigumo no Shita ni Ikite)
  • We of Nagasaki; The story of survivors in an atomic wasteland (私達は長崎にいた: 原爆生存者の叫び Watashitachi wa Nagasaki ni Ita: Genbaku Seizonsha no Sakebi)

Unpublished Writing[edit]

A Bright Port (輝やく港 Kagayaku Minato)

Media[edit]

In July, 1949, the song titled “Nagasaki no Kane” (The Bells of Nagasaki) was released from Columbia Records. It was sung by Ichiro Fujiyama. The lyrics were written by Hachiro Sato. Yuji Koseki was the composer for the song.[40]

Nagai's “The Bells of Nagasaki” became a film by Shochiku and was released on September 23, 1950. It was directed by Hideo Ōba.[41]

In 1983, “Leaving These Children behind” was filmed by Keisuke Kinoshita.[42]

A film production company, Major Oak Entertainment Ltd is producing a movie on the life of Nagai. Under the working title of “All That Remains”, the movie is directed by Ian and Dominic Higgins and Dr Nagai is played by Leo Ashizawa.[43]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Glynn, Paul (2009). A Song for Nagasaki. San Francisco: Ignatius Press. pp. 14–17. ISBN 978-1-58617-343-2.
  2. ^ 永井隆博士が旧制松江高校時代の恩師にあてた直筆ハガキを展示 2011年12月12日 島根大学(Dr. Takshi Nagai’s Handwritten Postcard to His Teacher at Matsue High School Displayed, Shimane University Dec.12, 2011)
  3. ^ Makoto, Nagai(2000). 永井隆―長崎の原爆に直撃された放射線専門医師(Nagai Takashi- A Radiologist Directly Hit by A-bomb in Nagasaki). Tokyo: San Paolo. pp. 46. ISBN 978-4-8056-6407-0
  4. ^ Konishi, Tetsuro(2012). pp. 75.
  5. ^ [Nagai, Makoto(2000), pp. 47.]
  6. ^ Konishi, Tetsuro(2012). pp. 76.
  7. ^ Konishi, Tetsuro(2012). pp. 76.
  8. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi (1961). pp. 21.
  9. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi (1961). pp. 59.
  10. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi (1961). pp. 61.
  11. ^ Konishi, Tetsuro(2012). pp. 81.
  12. ^ Konishi, Tetsuro(2012). pp. 81-82.
  13. ^ Nagai, Makoto(2000). pp. 101.
  14. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi(1961). pp. 361.
  15. ^ Kataoka(1961). pp
  16. ^ Nagai, Takashi(1989). ルルドの奇跡(The Miracle of Lourdes). 原子野録音(Genshiya Rokuon) pp. 37. Seibo no Kishisha. ISBN 4-88216-045-5
  17. ^ Paul, Glynn. pp. 185.
  18. ^ Nagai, Takashi (2008). Leaving My Beloved Children Behind. Strathfield: St Pauls Publications. pp. 175–176. ISBN 978-1-921472-05-3.
  19. ^ Paul, Glynn. p. 199
  20. ^ "The Man who Loved Others as Himself (Chapter 4: Nyokodo)". Nagasaki City. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
  21. ^ Yu Kawakami, Staff Writer. Young cherry trees grown from trees planted by Nagasaki A-bomb survivor. Dec. 22, 2010. Hiroshima Peace Media Center
  22. ^ 名誉・栄誉市民 長崎市(The Honorary Citizens. Nagasaki City)
  23. ^ Kataoka(1961). pp. 342.
  24. ^ Kataoka(1961). pp. 349-350.
  25. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi(1961). pp. 355.
  26. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi(1961). pp. 356.
  27. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi(1961). pp. 357.
  28. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi(1961). pp. 357-358.
  29. ^ Kataoka, Yakichi(1961). pp. 358.
  30. ^ Education and Culture. Unnan City
  31. ^ 愛と平和がテーマ 島根県雲南市「永井隆賞」小論文や作文を募る(Love and Peace are Themes. “Takashi Nagai Award” Unnan City, Shimane Prefecture Inviting Essays and Writings. April 23, 2013. Hiroshima Peace Media Center)
  32. ^ Conferment of The Takashi Nagai Memorial Nagasaki Peace Award. Nagasaki Association for Hibakushas' Medical Care
  33. ^ Nagai Takashi Memorial International Hibakusha Medical Center
  34. ^ センター長あいさつ 永井隆記念国際 ヒバクシャ医療センター(Greeting from Director. Nagai Takashi Memorial International Hibakusha Medical Center)
  35. ^ Studying the Fukushima Aftermath: 'People Are Suffering from Radiophobia'. August 19, 2011. 12:46PM. Spiegel Online International
  36. ^ 山内清海. 永井隆博士の思想を語る : 永井博士生誕百周年の記念講演会録(Yamauchi, Kiyomi. Talking about Dr. Takashi Nagai’s Thought: The Commemorative Lecture Record for 100th anniversary of Dr. Nagai’s birth. pp. 1. ISBN 978-4-9161-5971-7.)
  37. ^ 機関紙「神の家族」- ODN 2010年9月号、カトリック浦上教会(“The God's Family” ODN September 2010. Urakami Cathedral)
  38. ^ Atomic Bomb Rescue and Relief Report (長崎医大原子爆弾救護報告Nagasaki Idai Genshi Bakudan Kyuugo Houkoku) Nagasaki Association for Hibakusha's Medical Care(NASHIM)
  39. ^ Atomic Bomb Literature: A Bibliography
  40. ^ 古関裕而『うた物語』 長崎の鐘(Yuji Kosei. “The Stories of Songs”. Nagasaki no Kane). Fukushima Minyu Net
  41. ^ 長崎の鐘(The Bells of Nagasaki) -allcinema
  42. ^ この子を残して(Leaving these beloved Children behind) -allcinema
  43. ^ Film dedicated to the 66th anniversary of atomic bombing, Nagasaki. 09/06/2011. Christian Telegraph

External links[edit]