As I've mentioned before, while working for Mazda Unyu Hiroshima (now Mazda Logistics), I lived with the family of the company's president, Eizo Toda and his wife Yuriko, in the Eba neighborhood at Eba Nihonmatsu 1-chome, 10-27. From what I understand, the house and much of the neighborhood is gone now, replaced by an expressway. Utterly unlike the immense, lavish mansions of corporate leaders I know in and near Palm Beach, Florida, where I have lived for the last 40 years, the Todas' home was quite modest and located in a modest neighborhood. I don't suggest that this entry portrays Eba in its entirety or, really, in any other way than a relatively random set of images that I found interesting, unusual or 'typical' at the time and that survived.
|corner store with apartments above|
"I wound my way through the incredibly narrow alleys, some paved, some dirt, where pedestrians and bicycles only can pass, as well as along the crowded streets and wide boulevards - well, boulevard, to be exact. There is a wide variation in the type and quality of housing in the area. Attractive newer homes like the Todas' co-exist with relatively small apartment houses holding four to eight families in very cramped quarters."
Because I generally worked half days, I often wandered around the Eba neighborhood in the afternoons, sometimes on a bike, more often on foot, and usually with a camera. Occasionally I struck up a conversation with an adult but, for the most part, it was the kids who were more curious about the gaijin in their midst than they were uncomfortable around an adult.
|neighborhood kids playing in the street|
"Children play in the streets, having no backyards, and often seem to me to be in great danger thereby. Without supervision, 5- and 6-year-old kids push their toy cars into intersections and along very crowded, narrow streets. I wonder what the incidence of accidents involving children is."
|these little guys stuck close to home|
Since I was a male living with a family, I was never asked to run errands or to 'pick up a loaf of bread' at the corner store. The only person in the neighborhood that I really got to know was Yoneda-san, the owner of the camera store where I bought film and had my film processed. On a day trip to photograph fall leaves at Miyajima, he told me that he was a small child in 1945 whose chief memory of the A-bomb aftermath was of GIs giving him gum and candies. I also learned that neither he nor his sister were married because no one wanted their child to marry an A-bomb survivor on the chance that they might produce radiation-damaged children.
|Yoneda at Miyajima|
The city of Hiroshima is situated on the Ota River delta facing the Inland Sea. The river's six channels divide Hiroshima into several islets, one of which is Eba. Towards the southern end is Sarayama from atop which were lovely views of the city. Today the view would be of the expressway. At the top left are the Mitsubishi Shipyards.
|view from Sarayama|
As an island, Eba is surrounded by water. I had to walk only a couple minutes to reach the water's side where small boats plied the river and bay, transporting goods or oystering. Hiroshima was known for its oysters, although when I lived there the water was probably at its most polluted. Still, I remember eating a lot of kaki-furai
, or fried oysters.
|oysterman dumping shells|
Surprisingly for a big city, there were fields in Eba where vegetables were grown. You couldn't call them farms, but they were bigger than 'backyard gardens.' I came across a few just after harvest.
|vegetable plot in Eba|
|freshly grown daikon|
|women workers at construction site|
I'm sure those gardens are long gone, between the construction of homes and stores that was taking place all over Eba then and the later expressway.
I was always impressed by the serious effort and concentration I observed in people no matter what the nature of the job. Even break-time had its rhythm and decorum.
|peddler with a smile|
|break time at construction site|
"Most outstanding is the amount of construction being done all over Hiroshima and in Eba as well. Since Eba is basically a residential area, most of the construction appears to be housing, but new offices and stores are being built also."
Probably because I was typically out wandering around Eba from mid- to late-afternoons, I saw mostly seniors and kids.
|Mothers and grandmothers often carried babies 'papoose' style|
|Future Harajuku fashionista|
Having spent most of a year living in the Eba neighborhood, I had opportunities to witness and participate in special events - from Shichi-go-san in November to New Year celebrations and even weddings.
| in the Todas' garden dressed to celebrate the New Year 1974|