News of the "tremendous, large bomb" that destroyed Hiroshima first reached her hometown in Japan over the radio.
"We didn't know anything about atomic bombs at that time," recalls Tsuyuko (Dewie) Janzen of Mission Viejo. "They just said it was something they had never seen before."
Janzen, then 17-year-old Tsuyuko Tarumoto, was home from college in Tokyo for the summer that August. Her father, a prosperous wholesale grocer, told her he thought the bombing of Hiroshima meant that Japan would soon surrender. Janzen gave no thought to the possibility that another American bomb might be dropped. Certainly not on her hometown. Not on Nagasaki.
Janzen remembers Aug. 9, 1945, the day the second atom bomb fell, as hot and humid.
A morning air raid had sent her family scurrying to the safety of a concrete bomb shelter beneath her father's grocery store on a hill overlooking the port city. When the radio announced the end of the air raid shortly before 11, Janzen ran to her bedroom above the store. Shedding her blouse, she stepped out onto the balcony in her slip in hopes of catching a cool breeze.
Hearing the drone of an airplane, she looked skyward, where she saw an aircraft flying much higher than normal. There had been no new air raid warning, and she thought it was a returning Japanese plane. Then she saw what looked like a black dot falling to Earth.
When the bomb exploded, she says, it was as though she was staring at a million lightning bolts.
She's not sure whether she ran back into the family living quarters or was blown back by the blast, but when she came to, she was lying on her stomach on the floor two rooms away. The ceiling above had buckled, and there were gaping holes in the roof.
Ground zero was about five miles away.
Janzen had cuts on her back and leg. Concerned about her face, she looked into a broken mirror. Her eyebrows were singed, and her face and body were bright red, as if she had been badly sunburned.
Returning to the balcony, she looked out over the city, where an enormous mushroom cloud was growing "bigger and bigger." She would later see film footage of an atom bomb blast test in the American desert, but that mushroom cloud was nothing compared to this one, she says.
The \o7 colors, \f7 she says. "I wish I had the English language to describe the colors--yellow, red and black. It took your eyes, and it just glued them to it. It was something totally different."
Six months later, she would begin experiencing radiation sickness. Her gums bled. Some of her hair fell out. Her knee swelled to the size of a volleyball, and a lymph node swelled so much she couldn't move her arm.
Janzen, who met her future husband, Bill, when he was a Marine stationed in Japan in 1953, doesn't think she has any lingering effects from the radiation. She recently returned from Japan, where she and other survivors were given complete physical exams, and everything looks fine. So far, she says.
Janzen says her own injuries were nothing compared with what she saw that day when she and her father walked toward the center of the blast to try to find a relative.
"It was just a mound of people, just dead," she says. There were dead people floating in the river. Bodies were bloated like balloons. "It was like a barbecue, human beings being barbecued," she says.
Those who weren't dead were screaming and crying for help.
Halfway to the blast site, Japanese soldiers turned Janzen and her father back.
At the elementary school near her house, she volunteered to help the one doctor tending to hundreds of injured.
A laborer who had been burned from head to toe asked Janzen to help him get up so he could go to the bathroom. When she grabbed his arm, his skin peeled off.
She worked with the injured for three days.
The nightmares would come later.