Let me start off by saying that this is a hard post to write. Today was a good day but it was a sad day too. I feel cheated by the “history” we learned in American public schools about the destruction that we caused here and the lives that were lost, both on August 6, 1945 and in the years that followed. I spent a large portion of the day in near tears for the parents who lost children and the children who lost parents and the people who lost everyone.
Firstly we had breakfast at a popular coffee chain called “Doutor”. I forgot take a picture because Rosie and I were too excited to eat our chocolate cake for breakfast. Don’t judge me. I needed to fortify for the day ahead.
We took a street car to the Atomic Dome in peace park. The street car was a super fun experience that I’d never had and I was glad to share it with the kids.
The Atomic Dome was a large, beautiful building before it was destroyed. It was right under the A bomb as it exploded so while al of the people inside the building were killed instantly, some of its walls were left standing. It’s remarkable really, given the severity of the bomb that anything could be left.
It took some time and there were disagreements about what should become of the shell of the building but eventually it was decided that it should be preserveref as a reminder to all of the travesties of war.
This led to a discussion between Nathaniel and I about how a group comes to a decision like that in the aftermath of such devastation. When you think about it, history is happening all around us, every day. It’s up to the people who experience it or are close to it to say “this is important”. I don’t know how people do that but I know now is the time for me to learn it.
We walked through Peace Park where you can see a number of different memorials. Every year in the park on August 6 there is a celebration to help remember the victims of the A Bomb. I imagine the park is full of green grass and flowers then and very beautiful.
The next photo shows a mound that is built of ashes from people who died.
We eventually made our way to the Childrens’ Memorial inspired by Sadako Sasaki. Groups put together 1000 paper cranes and bring them there. The statue shows Sadako holding a golden crane.
Inside of the statue with another golden crane. Visitors are welcome to ring the bell.
There is another bell in the park, referred to as the “Peace Bell”. Again visitors can ring the bell to ring out peace among the nations.
In the park is a flame, lit from the eternal flame of love we saw yesterday, that will stay lit until the last nuclear weapon is destroyed.
We happened upon a little festival with Japanese Flamingo dancers and then a Capoera demonstration. It was a nice way to warm our spirits after a tough morning.
Then we walked to a little area famous for the Hiroshima food speciality called oknomiyaki which is grilled stuff with eggs and a pancake ish thing. Also it’s delicious.
After lunch we walked back to Peace Park and visited the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial for the Atomic Bomb Victims which shows the registry of all the more than 300,000 victims of the bomb. It’s quiet and beautiful. I was impressed here by Isaac who read each sign. It was beautiful and moving.
There are no photos because the peace hall is dark and meant for inner reflection and prayer. However outside there is a memorial with a sundial “set” set to 8:15 which is the time the bomb fell. Around this fountain are pieces of rubble from the buildings.
Next we went to the Peace Museum. This museum is more about what happened, how it happened and why it happened. This was moving in a different way. A very sad way. Here you can see clothing pulled from dead people who suffered while wearing them and most notably (for me) a tricycle melted from the heat of the blast.
This above photo shows black rain stains on a white wall.
Though the museum was packed (part of the building is being updated so the exhibit area is smaller currently) it was mostly silent. Eerily quiet. Especially considering my children were there. Again there were few photos taken.
After the museum we had ice cream and Nathaniel made a paper crane.
We also received postcards made from recycled paper from paper cranes. The kids each will keep one and I plan on sending the other 2 to people in places of power to remind them that people are people, period. And people deserve to be respected.
We took the paper cranes back to Sadako and Nathaniel left a message of peace.
We walked to Honkawa elementary school which has a small building still standing that was near the hypocenter. The schools PTA runs a small museum there however it was closed. I had to laugh because my Facebook flashback today was running the book fair last year. Perspective is everything I guess.
On our way no,e we happened upon what we thought was a paddle board performance.
But it turned out to be some sort of crazy Yokai festival. Which was odd but a munch needed laugh.
So. . . Yeah. Hiroshima people. I know there is more to this city than what happened here not so many years ago, but I’m glad that people have taken the time and effort to preserve the past so that we can learn from mistakes of the past.
It was an experience I’m glad I got to share with my kids. Although they might not be able to fully grasp the gravity of it right now, I hope that someday they can reflect on what they saw here. It’s more real for those of us who have lived through some “history” like the September 11 attacks, but I remember as a kid thinking how far off and hypothetical things like an atomic bomb seemed. Now, having lived in a time where terrosit attacks (both domestic and foreign) are not uncommon, and war is not a thought but an actuality, I feel like I have a deeper understanding for tragedies such as the one that occurred in Hiroshima.
If you want more information, speficially not western biased information, we were introduced to this blog today: A-Bomb In-Utero Survivor Speaks
This is not a blog that is for the faint of heart, and I would have tissues at the ready. However, it goes into a lot more detail and personal stories than you would find in a text book. Some articles may be good for children while some are clearly for a more mature audience.
I’m sure I’ll have nightmares tonight.