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Published: August 26th 2010
The first thought invoked by the word Hiroshima for nearly anyone is that it was the first city to suffer the devastation of an atomic bomb. On August 6th, 1945 a plane, the Enola Gay, approached the city. Many citizens thought that it was just a surveillance plane. Two more planes were behind and they would be used for measuring the bombs effect. The military saw them on radar but figured the contingent couldn't do much damage and thought nothing more of it. Up until this point Hiroshima had been spared any significant bombings but the truth was that the Allies decided to leave the city intact so it could study the effect of their new bomb. Also the two main things that sealed Hiroshima's fate was that there was no POW camp suspected of being there and the fact that it was clear skies on the day off. At 8:15 am the plane flew overhead and dropped its payload, an atomic bomb nicknamed "little boy". The bomb fell and detonated 600 meters above the city center creating a blast that equaled around 13 kilotons of TNT. 80,000 people were instantly incinerated with about 140,000 perishing by the end of the
year due to radiation aftereffects and burns. 69% of all buildings were leveled with many more badly damaged.
My first site in this city was the A-Bomb memorial park, groud zero of the epicenter. I took a tram from my hostel to the nearby area and stopped to inspect the A-Dome, one of the only buildings remaining after the bombing. It was an eerie sight. I then went through the park, saw various monuments and then entered the Museum. It chronicled the events leading up to the bombing, actual bombing and of course the aftermath. The aftereffects of the radiation were perhaps the most damaging of all with people still suffering from them to this day. In Japan they're known as the Hibakusha. People had all sorts of problems like blindness, cancer, rampant keloids, internal organ damage, retarded babies, etc. Many even developed them later on in life even after appearing very healthy. One section taught me about how radiation reacts to cells at different levels. After the museum I walked back out into the humidity and visited a castle surrounded by a moat nearby, it was cool.
In the evening I met three Slovenian guys from my
hostel. They'd been in Japan way longer than me and gave me some info about stuff. Some spoke a bit of Japanese. We went out to have okonomiyaki, a famous dish in Hiroshima consisting of meat, cabbage, and some bread pressed together and fried. The cook makes it right in front of us and we were starving by the time it was ready. Even inside these little restaurants there were Manga bookstands, it's insane.
The next day I visited Miyajima, a famous scenic spot in this country with various Shinto temples and shrines and a Torii (Japanese Shinto gate) that came out of the water, when the tide was low enough people could walk right up to it. I tried going up to a top of the hill to get a good view but it was so hot and I was sweating so much I had to abandon the idea. I got back late in the evening.
My final day in the town I walked past the baseball stadium where little kids were playing and then carried on to a park that had a manga library at the top. Of course it was full. In the evening I
met this dude from Hawaii in the hostel and showed him around the immediate area before we went to eat good old ramen.
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