For A Hiroshima Survivor In Austin, Gardens Have Helped Her Heal

Maintaining the garden at All Saints Church connects Chikako Nichols with her childhood.

By Joy DiazApril 3, 2018 12:03 pm,

Chikako Nichols died peacefully on August 9th, 2019. One of her friends played his violin. Another, placed a yellow flower from Nichols’ garden on her hair.


Chikako Nichols says her family lost everything in the summer of 1945, when the U.S. dropped a bomb on Hiroshima, changing her life forever.

“There was nothing left,” she says. After the explosion, life for survivors in Japan was difficult.

“Every household had a suicide incident,” she says. “I was good at attending a funeral because I went to so many funerals.”

When she began attending school, her science teacher started building a garden.

“It was a most precious place for me,” she says.

In 1970, Nichols married and moved to the United States – for her, it was a time of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty.

She says that, as she gets older, she considers each day a bonus day. She spends her time in the garden she maintains at All Saints Church in Austin, where she hears the birds, smells the flowers and fresh air, and squirrels will visit her.

“It’s strange when I look back,” she says. “This is the country we fought in Japan. This is the country who dropped the bomb. But also this is the country who helped me.”

Written by Angela Bonilla