Monday, July 1, 2013

Hiroshima

This weekend was wow, just fantastically superb. I got to see some fantastic places and has some emotional moments. There were a lot of firsts and overall, I just REALLY can't believe this weekend is already over!

So where to begin? First off Briana and I took off early Saturday morning to head to Tokyo Station to catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima.


It was our very first time riding the shinkansen. The total trip one way took just about 4 hours total. Let me tell you, these things go FAST. The Kyoto and Osaka stops took about 2-3 hours to reach by bullet train. Those same stops took 8 hours by night bus a few months back. Though this train can travel INSANELY fast speeds, 320 kilometers per hour at it's fastest (something like 200 mph), it didn't really feel any faster. I mean, it just felt like we were going as fast as a normal train though clearly we were going much, much faster than a normal train!


We got to our hotel and checked in before heading to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (Website for those interested in visiting.) which was within a 10 minute walk from our hotel. The entry cost was only 50円, about 50 cents.

War is the work of man. War is the destruction of human life. War is death. To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future. To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war. To remember Hiroshima is to commit oneself to peace. - 10:30 a.m., 25 February 1981 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. His holiness Pope John Paul II

This museum was... I'm still trying to find the words for it to be honest. At first I was like "Okay, cool. Museum. History of Hiroshima, more history, military town, etc." as I continued along. When I got to the part about how Hiroshima was chosen to be bombed along with one or two reasons why they were doing the bombing I became extremely upset. When I spoke with Briana, who has studied all about this stuff I don't know how many times, afterwards about this part she told me a lot of information that was not included in the exhibit. Had all the information been set before me at the museum, I probably wouldn't have gotten quite as upset as I initially did. I did however learn that the U.S.A.'s original target was Germany though. That really surprised me. The museum listed one of the reasons for the change of target as, if the bomb didn't go off, the German's were more likely to salvage and more or less replicate it.

The first exhibit after that was this.




Looking between these two tables is your first taste of what happened at Hiroshima. It's hard to see in the image, but if you click on the second image and make it larger there is a red pole in the upper right hand of the display. That's where the epicenter of the bomb was located. The little place card on the bottom right in the spot of light is the current location of the museum.

Looking between these two tables you could just feel the devastation and the loss. Later on there was a larger display with more of the city and you could see everything for just so far was just gone. I can't explain the profound sense of loss, sadness and despair I felt looking at this.

After going through some more informational displays on the second floor and passing a video corner, where you can watch videos of victims telling their stories, and a gift shop you proceed into the next building. This building starts you off something like this.


Although non-flash photography is allowed inside the museum this was the last picture I was able to take. Beyond this point you see remnants of things, clothing and personal belongings that managed to survive the atomic blast. Along with the objects are names of their owners as well as their age, grade level and how soon after the blast they died. There were many school uniforms, many belonging to middle schoolers, some to elementary students. There was a man's pocket watch, a blackened and charred remains of a lunch box and, even more disturbingly, pieces of skin and fingernails one mother kept of her son to show his father.

There was only so much I could take. I fled to the next room where objects were accompanied by images. I hadn't seen a single object attached to a person who had survived more than a couple of days after the blast. The images of the injuries were unpleasant to say the least. There was one photo of a woman whose kimono pattern was burned into her skin and that was the least gruesome of the images. Yet again, I quickly fled to the next room. In places farther from the epicenter there were signs and such where anything darkly colored was burned out. There were images of notes with clearly cut holes where the characters and hiragana (Japanese letters) had been.

I'm very ashamed to say this, but by the time I got into the room about the effects on survivors I was not feeling well emotionally. I felt sick and upset. I wanted to sit down somewhere and cry. I could not handle any more of what was being shown so I quickly left and sat down in the closest seat and had to take time to calm down so that I wouldn't burst into tears or vomit.

I'm really glad I went, but the museum was very, very powerful.

Afterwards we looked at more memorials and saw the remains of the Genbaku dome, one of the very few buildings that survived the atomic blast. They're in the process of repairing the building so that it will not collapse while preserving it as it stood the day of the nuclear blast.


Children's Memorial
Genbaku dome.
Student memorial.
From here on out we had free time. The girls, minus the German girls, and I did purikura and a little shopping before heading down by the river to enjoy the night view.

You're totally not supposed to take your own photos by the way.
These girls thought it was hilarious that we were doing the cosplaying and wanted a picture with us.
River night view.

Genbaku dome at night.
Fast forward to this morning and we hoped on a train and headed to Miyajima.


The full trip included riding on a ferry to the island. 



We rode this boat.


And now, for more happy time. On the island there were DEER!!!






No deer. You can't go in the store.

This deer is like "Why can I no haz ins?" Improper grammar and all.
 Then we walked out to the giant torii. The main pillars are about 100 year old cypress trees that were grown naturally and brought in from different parts of Japan. Below the pillars is a platform of pine trees sunk into the ocean floor with a like concrete slab on top. On top of that the pillars are placed. In the beam on top something like 7 tons of rocks inside if I remember correctly. If not, please feel free to correct me. The rocks make it heavy enough that it doesn't fall over due to wind or the ocean.

We walked out to the torii.

 We then proceeded to the temple after a deer unfortunately ate our teachers map. Yes. A deer ate the map, but I don't think my teacher will accept excuses of "The deer ate my homework." We walked around the inside of the main complex and took a picture. Melissa was M.I.A. though.


 I then did mikuji (like a fortune telling thing) and I got really good luck! My teacher told me it was best to tie it up at the shrine and make a quick prayer for it to be actualized.  I did, but snapped a quick picture first. My luck is ALWAYS terrible on these things, so I was super happy that this one was not. :)


I then went to the cultural museum, where I learned about the torii and other things about the island.


Watched some deer.


Saw some more breathtaking scenery. 


And then. I rode another boat. That's right. You heard me. I rode, a boat.

We rode through the torii gate. Sorry all of you who were trying to take pictures. 


We looked at the torii some more and as we were heading back, the wake from a passing boat set ours rocking violently. I thought we were going to get thrown out and everyone kind of freaked out a bit. But everything was A-Okay! 


While hunting for lunch and sweets to bring back I saw this and had a random stranger take the picture for me. I think she was more embarrassed than I was.


I also took a video of this crazy deer. Like. Seriously. Just watch it. Beware of deer!!! I'll upload a link to my video soon.

Bad Deer Video

Sadly, my day was then ended and I rode the shinkansen back to Tokyo. The trip seemed shorter this go around. Though that was probably due to the fact that Katie and I spent the entire four hour trip talking! What a conversation!


Thanks for sticking around! I wish I could show you all more pictures from my trip, but I think you get the idea.

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