Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hiroshima Japan

The second day of our weekend road trip we spent touring Hiroshima, stopping at the Peace Park Memorial Park, A-Dome, Peace Park Museum, Hiroshima Castle and finally the Sukkein Garden.

At 8:15 am on August 6, 1945 the United Stated dropped the A-Bomb on Hiroshima Japan. This was the first time a nuclear bomb was ever used as warfare. I am not even sure I have words to describe what we saw while visiting Hiroshima. It is something that you have to just see for yourself and then you will see why we just wanted to pull our kids close and shelter them from the world, even for a few minutes. Pictures do not even come close to doing it justice.

Peace Park was easily within walking distance from our hotel so we walked through the city catching some of the sites along the way. Throughout the park you will see many "peace" leis hanging on different statues, memorials and other areas.
We first went to the Peace Park Museum. Inside this museum are hundreds of photographs of Hiroshima before and after the A-Bomb was dropped. There are also many lessons in the history of Hiroshima, nuclear weapons and Japans stance on hoping for a nuclear free, peaceful world. There are pictures, videos, testimonial talks and artifacts of various people who's lives were taken from the A-Bomb and even some survivors. The stories of parents searching the city for days to find their child, only to find them dead on the ground or hunched over what once was preschool furniture, were heart wrenching. Photos of the effects from radiation exposure and the people injured and many dying within a few short days made you want to close your eyes from the emotion you can't help but feel. Not including people who have died over the years from cancers or other side effects from radiation exposure, over 140,000 people died right after the A-Bomb was dropped.

I only took one picture inside the museum. To take more I felt would have been too imposing.

After the museum we walked around the park making our way to the A-Dome.

Flame of Peace
Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims
The A-Dome is the only still standing building after the A-bomb dropped. There were three total, this is the only one that remains.
Originally scientists said that it would take 75 years for anything to grow in the A-bomb areas due to radiation. As you can see from the pictures, they were incorrect. In fact all around Hiroshima you will find several trees marked as "survivors" from the A-Bomb.
Many people have asked us where all we want to visit within Japan while living here. I always told them Hiroshima because it has such a historical significance. Several people told us that it is just a big concrete city and not much to see. While on the surface I can see that, but if you look beyond the "new" buildings and think about what Hiroshima was like just 60 years ago, and picture the stories of the people there during that horrific time, you will see it is much more than just a "big concrete city".

For comparison purposes, here is a shot of Hiroshima, near the A-Dome, almost a month after the bombing. You tell me that there isn't anything to see here.
After Peace Park we drove over to Hiroshima Castle. The original castle was destroyed in the bombing, however they have rebuilt a replica and you can walk the grounds and visit the shrine on site.
After Hiroshima Castle we still had the Sukkein Garden on our to-do list, however Sami was ready to call it a day so Chris and I decided to walk there while Matt took the girls to the car. Of course Chris and I got lost trying to find our way, so luckily we found these lovely tour guides who walked us right to the front gates.
Sukkein Garden was a beautiful place, full of Japanese gardens and small tree lined paths. As everything else, it was totally destroyed in the bombing and has been rebuilt.

It was an interesting contrast having just been to Pearl Harbor three weeks ago and seeing where the Japan/US war really began and then going to Hiroshima and seeing how the war ended. Such a tragic time in history.

You can see many more pictures of Hiroshima here.


Terri said...

again I say, what an excellent job you are doing as a parent exposing your children to this rich history on both sides of the continent. And you retell your visits with heartfelt sympathy and the most beautiful pictures. Thank you for bringing this to us through your blog.

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