FEELING A LITTLE blue this morning? If so, you’re not alone. According to experts, the third Monday of January, known as “Blue Monday”, is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. Psychologists believe that wintery weather, along with the recent arrival of those December shopping bills and the mounting shame from all of those broken New Years resolutions converge to create the perfect storm of post-Holiday despair.
Well, cheer up, Sunshine! Because, no matter how miserable you may be feeling on this particular Monday morning, Tsutomu Yamaguchi experienced far worse – he suffered through not just one but BOTH atomic bombings of Japan.
On the morning of, Aug. 6, 1945, (which was also Monday, by the way), the 29-year old civilian engineer just happened to be in Hiroshima on business. That’s when a single American B-29 bomber, nicknamed Enola Gay, dropped a 16-kiloton nuclear weapon on the city. In fact, the Mitsubishi employee was standing just 3,000 meters from ground zero at precisely 8:16 a.m. local time when the bomb, dubbed “Little Boy”, exploded in a blinding flash several hundred feet above a local medical facility known as the Shima Hospital. Alive, but burned, dazed and unable to see, Yamaguchi staggered through the smouldering, radioactive wasteland for hours before being rescued. He was treated for his injuries and sent home by train to recuperate. At the time, Yamaguchi lived 400 km (250 miles) away… in the city of Nagasaki!
Amazingly, by the morning of Aug. 9, young Tsutomu had recovered and was back on the job. At around 11 a.m. he took a short break and launched into a description of his recent ordeal for a disbelieving colleague. Yamaguchi had no idea that at that exact instant 30,000 feet overhead yet another atomic bomb, this one codenamed “Fat Man”, was falling away from an American B-29. About 40 seconds later, the 21-kiloton weapon exploded nearly 2,000 feet (600m) above the city. Remarkably, Yamaguchi was again standing only 3,000 meters from the point of detonation. And again, he escaped this second inferno with only minor injuries.
Ironically, the U.S. military had initially planned to attack the city of Kokura more than 200 km (120 miles) to the north-east, but the bomber crew diverted to Nagasaki in mid mission due to dense cloud cover over the primary objective.
After the war, Yamaguchi became a father and despite permanently losing hearing in one ear enjoyed a long career as a schoolteacher. In his later years, he devoted his energies to nuclear disarmament and even wrote a book about his experiences entitled Twice Survived. Yamaguchi died in 2010 at the age of 93.
Tragically, more than 200,000 perished in the two explosions. Despite being remembered as the only man who was a-bombed twice, more than 150 survivors from Hiroshima were supposedly evacuated to Nagasaki after the bombing and experienced both attacks.  The government of Japan is unable to verify these claims however and does not officially recognize the claimants as double victims.