Sunday, 11 August 2013

Hiroshima: Rob's guest blog part 2

Following on from 'that' night in the dorm, the day came to explore areas of Hiroshima. Obviously, it's the city in Japan with the most poignant and terrible history. We were both very interested in seeing the Memorial Museum and all sections of the Peace Park, but in a totally different way to other cities as we knew this held a different message to other places we had been to. Our hostel was in a excellent location for where we wanted to go and was only a few minutes walk to the park, something which really helped in the sweltering heat (which we're sure has been increasing)! We thought that spending the morning at the museum would offer us the opportunity to fully educate ourselves on the history of event and therefore understand the meaning behind the various monuments. Before entering the museum we passed a memorial statue of The Mother and Child in the Storm, surrounded by collections of paper cranes (more on that story later on). 

The museum is divided into 2 distinct sections; the first being a general history of the bombing while the second gave more detailed accounts of individual experiences. The first floor told the story of how Hiroshima became such an important military city prior to the war. The room was filled with both audio and visual educational aids which told the story of the history of Hiroshima from 11th century AD to the present day. We were both fascinated by the information they provided, particularly on the years leading up to the war and how Hiroshima became a focal point of attack. In the latter half of the first floor, there was greater focus on how Hiroshima was chosen for the atomic bombing detailing the reasons why and the contributing factors. 

As well as this information given there were also separate exhibits to see Hiroshima pre-bomb and post-bomb. Two of these were models designed to show Hiroshima as a thriving city and also as a city in ruins. Hiroshima now makes huge efforts to prevent further nuclear warfare and actively participates in multiple peace activities. Huge emphasis was placed on this and to show their post-war efforts against nuclear weapons there was a large selection of protest letters from every mayor of Hiroshima pleading for the end of nuclear weapons to all those who have conducted testing. 

Section 2 seemed more personal to the families involved and covered much more information on individual experiences and the technicalities involved with the bomb itself. We passed numerous artefacts which told stories of those seriously affected. A lot of these started with the optimism of them escaping the blast however this went on to tell you that their fate had probably already been decided. The photo below shows a possession of one of the victims, however most of the artefacts were too upsetting to contemplate photographing. The watch has stopped at 8.15am as this was the exact time the bomb exploded.

The victims at the time of the blast were not the only ones affected. The nuclear poisoning which was a consequence lasted for years. One of these which has been particularly noted was that of a young girl who died of leukaemia 10 years after the blast at the age of 12. The belief she held was that if she made 1000 origami cranes before her death, she would be saved. Sadly this amount was not reached but her effort still carries on and the crane is now a symbol of peace throughout Hiroshima. The picture provided above is one of two monuments which holds the collections of cranes made by schoolchildren across Japan. 

After spending a good two hours at the museum we decided to take a break going back for some lunch and a sort out in the hostel. We both felt the need to process what we had learnt before returning to the Peace Park. 

The park is very well sign posted and it is all close together so we were able to view everything else easily. The first sight we went to was the Phoenix trees which is a small group of trees that had been damaged by the bomb but which are still growing today.

We headed across to the Cenotaph (a memorial structure for all the victims of the bomb- figure currently stands at approximately 140,000) with a concrete box containing all the names of those who perished as a consequence- this figure continues to grow to this day. Next to this was the flame of eternal peace which will continue to burn until all nuclear weapons have been destroyed. 

The next group of memorials which were further up the park were the Memorial Mound (containing ashes of those in the immediate vicinity of the explosion- 70,000), the children's monument (similar to the one we saw before the museum with additional origami cranes surrounding it) and finally the Peace Bell which can be rang by all those in favour of nuclear peace. We both obviously rang it.

The final two reminders were that of the well-known A-bomb dome and the hypocenter in the nearby street. The A-bomb dome is a concrete building which was formerly a public office. The inner structure windows and all personnel inside were decimated during the blast while remarkably the outer structure remains largely intact considering the impact. It was fascinating to see this building amidst the modern city which now surrounds it. A couple of streets down is the exact point below where the atomic bomb exploded, marked by a small plaque.

After a thought-provoking day, it was time to head back to the hostel for a less intense night with some more okonomi-yaki, albeit unintentionally. We went to a nearby restaurant where it seemed that they sold various foods, but when we sat down in front of the searing hot plate, it was obvious that it could only be okonomi-yaki. Greeted by numerous waiters we were trying to explain that we needed two minutes more to order, which proved difficult to explain, and resulted in us looking rather foolish and the waiter thinking we needed food to arrive in two minutes time. Food was good though despite this stressful beginning both enjoying some more carbs and beer. 

Relishing in a quiet nights sleep we relaxed in the room and got our usual 8 hours sleep (we're too old for this burning the candles at both end lark). In Osaka so Rebecca will contribute more soon......

No comments:

Post a Comment