Published: February 2nd 2012February 2nd 2012
Some of the cranes sent to the childrens memorial arranged into artwork
Well hello there!
So Hiroshima. Please forgive me if my lack of adjectives on this subject appears coldhearted but I would struggle to put into words exactly how I felt here so you can have the facts. My English is not expansive enough to share how I felt not knowing if smiling in the area was disrespectful, or the thoughts running through elderly Japanese when they saw two western visitors exiting a train at a stop called 'The A-Bomb Dome', or if I was self-indulgent to think this.
To get an idea of the WW2 impacts on Hiroshima we visited the Peace Park, A bomb Dome, children's memorial, blast hypocentre and museum. The first visited the A bomb dome which is the remains of a former presentation centre, one of the few remains from the blast which was aimed at the neighbouring T-shaped bridge at 08.15 in a city containing 150,000 people.
The great museum at the peace park details the events leading up to the decision for the bomb to be dropped, the effects of the blast and their decision to act as an ongoing reminder and protest centre for nuclear disarmament. This blog is not the
place to re-tell all, but I will include 3 things that I took from that museum:
1) A section of wall outside a bank where a man had been sat waiting for it to open. As a result of the explosion a bright fireball was created that bleached many things. The fireball whitened the steps and wall but the man's body protected a section beneath. His body was disintegrated. The step now forever contains a shadow of that man.
2) A father had to bury his 3 year old son. He couldnt bear that someone so young be buried alone and so buried him with his melted tricycle.
3) A 2 year old girl survived the blast but later developed leukemia. Whilst in hospital at the age of 10 she decided that if she folded 1000 paper cranes that she would survive. She did not live to complete her task. Her classmates decided to finish her task for her and along with other children campaigned for a memorial in her honour and for that of other children who lost their lives. The statue now sits in the peace park (by the flame that will not be extinguished
War memorial and flame
The memorial containing the names of those people who have died and the flame that will not be extinguished until all nuclear weapons are destroyed
until all nuclear weapons are destroyed) and is surrounded by thousands of cranes sent to the park by children all over the world.
After such an emotional experience we took ourselves off to the island of Mijiyama to see Mt Misen. The island is full of cheeky roaming deer and a temple gateway in the sands which looks like it floats at high tides (I'm not too convinced!) At the base of the mountain is a beautiful temple built on stilts to float above the sea in striking orange. We cheated and took the cable car most of the way up but arrived just before the one down departed which meant all the other folk mountain trampling left with the peak to ourselves!Watched the start of the sunset but having realised we would need to climb all the way down without a torch we decided to get a wriggle on and bounded like mountain goats down that mountainside to the ferry back to the city!
Having consumed far too many okonomiyaki pancakes we decided to head early to Hataka. The place is FULL of shoppers. Such a high proportion of the city is filled with designer goods stores
which obviously wasnt enough requiring teh city to burrow underground with sub-terranean shopping arcades! (OK maybe they are there because it is too cold outside - I will give the planners that). Local cuisine here relies heavily on pork bone broths and so I did at one point move to the darkside and order a dominoes (shhh). Decided to sample local nightlife at numerous bars which all seem to show Tom and Jerry reruns (?) but drinks are cheapest we have found which unfortunately leads me to The Dark Room. It was cheaper for an 'all you can drink' pass than for 3 drinks. Great bar, acoustic guitarist, really chatty owner, touring drummer and DJ with a wall full of what I swear was my CD collection! Should have realised that things were going a little too well, then the man arrived bleeding profusely from his mouth with his front teeth snapped in two. Needless to say the night ended with one of us (the more furry one) having a face featuring a couple more colourful areas than previously following a pavement face plant.
Loved staying at the Aloha Spirit hostel which consisted of a house mercilessly carved to
fit in as many people as possbile through the omission of a reception area or staff, inclusion of triple decker bunks constructed of a single bunk bed poorly nailed onto another bed and 2 showers created from 1 with a 2 x 4. Loved it!
Right time to 'beetle off' to South Korea but for those of you who are not yet asleep yet after this long one - here are some things I still
dont quite get about Japan:
1) Where people get their calcium
2) Who came up with the great idea to play ice-cream van tunes when you cross the street
3) How many pairs of shoes and slippers each person must own
4) How Y100 shops make any money
5) Why people bother to wear face masks, particularly when pulling them down to smoke and up mountains
6) Whether the school children have anytime at all that they are not in uniform and learning
7) How many times a day Irashaimaseeeeee is said per day to welcome people into shops
8) Quite how impossibly cute and well turned out the average Japanese toddler is
few billboards will ever advertise a beauty or fashion product using a non white person
10) Why the mayonnaise here is so much more tasty.
There are more photos below