Study Guide

Dr. Masakazu Fujii in Hiroshima

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Dr. Masakazu Fujii

Prior to the dropping of the bomb, Dr. Fujii ran a small private hospital situated on a river.

Where He Was When It Happened

He was sitting outside when the bomb was dropped, which sent the small hospital toppling into the river. He was trapped between two beams, but he eventually managed to wriggle out.

What Happened Next

He was too injured to leap into helping out with the large-scale relief efforts, so he went to his parents' house in the 'burbs to stay. Later, he moved to a friend's house. After that house fell into a river as a result of flooding, he ended up buying a clinic in the suburb of Kaitaichi. Hopefully not on a river.

Afterthoughts of War

He lived a relatively pleasant and pleasurable life from that point on, reveling in entertaining (particularly foreigners) and learning different languages. Catching up with him years later, Hersey described Dr. Fujii as a fun-loving, foreigner-loving party animal:

A convivial man, fifty years old, Dr. Fujii enjoyed the company of foreigners, and as his practice in the Kaitaichi clinic rolled comfortably along, it was his pleasure, in the evenings, to ply members of the occupying forces with a seemingly endless supply of Suntory whiskey that he somehow laid hands on. (5.102)

For relaxing times, make it Suntory time!

Apparently, his interest in foreigners and foreign languages (and Esperanto in particular) made some people suspicious that he might be "getting messages from the Comintern" (5.102).

Throughout all his trials and post-bombing ordeals, Dr. Fujii seemed to maintain a positive attitude and a solid sense of humor. When he ran into Father Kleinsorge on the train after some time had passed since the bombing (while was on his way to a memorial event for his dad), he turned his hardships into a light-hearted, good story:

Dr. Fujii said he was going to the annual gathering of his family, on the anniversary of his father's death. When they started talking about their experiences, the Doctor was quite entertaining as he told how his places of residence kept falling into rivers. (4.22)

So, yeah, Dr. Fujii seemed inclined to look on the bright side of life—and was committed to enjoying himself. According to Hersey, Dr. Fujii "evidently felt that for any psychological damage the horrors of the bombing may have done him the best therapy was to follow the pleasure principle" (5.105).

He certainly managed to have a blast when he got a chance to travel to the U.S. as a chaperone to some Japanese girls seeking plastic surgery for their burn scars:

Sometimes, he went out alone to have a good time. The other Japanese doctor, named Takahashi, was his hotel roommate. Dr. Takahashi was a light drinker and a light sleeper. Late at night, Dr. Fujii would come in, crash around, flop down, and break into a sleep-shattering symphony of snores. He was having a wonderful time. (5.111).

Sounds like a blast… for everyone but poor Dr. Takahashi.

Speaking of the U.S., in his socializing with lots of foreigners, Dr. Fujii really embraced the company of Americans:

Quite recovered from his wounds, he soon built up a strong practice, and he was delighted, in the evenings, to receive members of the occupying forces, on whom he lavished whiskey and practiced English. (4.20)

It may seem a little surprising that Dr. Fujii would be so friendly and even "eager" (5.102) to make friends with the "occupiers" who had destroyed his home city, but according to Hersey's account, his priority was pleasure, not politics.

His pro-American sentiments did get him into trouble in a surprising way, though: he ended up in the doghouse with his wife when he decided he wanted to build an American-style house that looked like one he had seen when he visited New York. Despite her objections, he went ahead and built it right next to their son's house… "for himself alone" (5.113). Hmm, how could that ever have created tension? But at least this house wasn't on a river.

Unfortunately, Dr. Fujii ended up accidentally (?) almost suffocating from a gas heater that was left on in his room overnight, and his health never fully covered after that incident. He lived for eleven years in a vegetative state before dying in 1973. Hopefully he spent his vegetable days dreaming of his whiskey-drinkin' good times.

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