Heiwa for Hiroshima

It was a heavy day for us in Hiroshima. The class started off with a lecture from a lovely ~80 year old hibakusha (bomb-affected person) who spoke of both generic and her personal experiences of the bomb. She spoke in English, a job that started when she acted (unwillingly, I might add) as a translator for German social activist/novelist XX. It was off to a shaky start all those years ago, but through her own will and about 40 years of this she was able to deliver her stories in English in a memorable way. We listened to her speak for 90 minutes or so, and after she was done Hilton & I got a picture with her, which was super neat! I wanted to ask her about her opinion on Japan using nuclear energy, both when it started in the 60s and after Fukushima, but we ran out of time. Hopefully I can convey the question later through Hubbard-sensei, but for now who knows.

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The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was the second morning activity and a solemn one for sure. Regardless of your views on WWII you can’t deny the atrocity of the atomic bombs America dropped, and the museum was a full-on visual and written experience of August 6, 1945. Seeing firsthand artifacts from that day – burnt clothes, melted roof tiles, pictures of those whose bodies were marred by the blast – was heartbreaking and provocative. If you should ever have the chance to visit please do, as it’s a humbling place to reflect on what happened and inspires the drive to do whatever possible so as to ensure that we have ‘no more Hiroshimas’, as was the logo of one of the commemorative coins there. I took pictures of some of the displays not to horrify anyone, but to provide a small selection of what the museum featured. Some of the content in the slideshow below is graphic and/or disturbing.

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We, that is, Steph, Lizzie and I, followed the museum with a moment of silence in front of a few other memorials for Hiroshima. The first was Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where you could pray in front of the memorial there as well as see the Genbaku Dōmu. This was followed by the Children’s Peace Monument, erected in honor of the famous young girl Sadako and her thousand cranes. On each side of the arc was a boy and a girl, representative of all the children who lost their lives. A bell was inside the monument, and as we stood there some people prayed with it. Surrounding the monument were small glass huts/displays of thousands of paper cranes, most hanging in impossibly busy lines down the windows while some were specially arranged to display pictures (see below). They came from all over the world, and anyone is free to send in cranes in a show of solidarity with the monument. We finished visiting the memorials at the Genbaku Dōmu. This was the sole standing structure that survived post-blast, and has been preserved with controversy (at first, if not still). It was the last in our series of solemn moments before we changed our tune.

After of this, we had one more historical stop, and that was Hiroshima-jo. This old castle housed the basis of Japan’s army at some point, although I don’t quite remember when. We entered with the intention of actually touring the grounds, but all we had time to do was stick our faces in a cutout, go to the jinja there and peace out. It was still fun though, and we made got a mini-view which was just fine after yesterday’s big castle tour.

Oh, and before that we stopped at some cute depato basement cafe for food, where I got to try some magical mango drink and where Lizzie & Steph ordered loco moco (Hawai’i, I miss you so!). Super rad dealio in my opinion.

(cafe pics)

After that we boarded the bus for Miyajima, which we actually took a ferry to get to. Woot! It was only 10 minutes but whatever, I’ll take any ocean viewing I can get. When we neared in we could see the famous floating toriiItsukushima Jinja. Once we got off the bus and loaded into our hotel rooms (Lizzie, Steph and I scored the sole triple again, what what) which were traditional tatami, just like my room at home, we were free. At least, until 7. So Steph and I headed out and about in town, hitting up a bunch of tourist-y stores, dropping bank (less than a dollar each actually) on Miyajima’s famous momiji manju, which are momiji (maple) shaped yum-buns filled with basically any flavor paste. So good. Miyajima is also known for rice paddles, so we saw the world’s biggest one there, as well as Itsukushima Jinja in the moonlight. It was low tide so we were able to walk out to it – very pretty! Then we rushed our butts back to the hotel for a traditional Japanese dinner.

(exploration pics)

All I can say is so many dishes. Jesus, there was oyster, fish, rice, noodles, veggies, beef, hotpot thing, tofu lump, soup, more and dessert. Plus I got whatever Lizzie didn’t like, which was a lot. I’m down for this type of dining more often, folks. We were also dressed in yukata since I saw some of the guys in the hallway decked out in them, but alas it wasn’t required as I thought. I just felt special, as always. Anyways, way yummy and pretty fun, and afterwards I missed out on the onsen by promptly passing out. A memorable day, in many ways.

 

*note: heiwa means peace in Japanese

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