Today was a good day but tinged by sadness and heartache. Today we visited Hiroshima.
The Huz and I spent two and a half hours on the JR train weaving through stunning countryside and towns, this is such a fab (and easy on the feet) way to get a glimpse of the outer regions and I’m really looking forward to our train ride to Kyoto and to Tokyo. The trains are luxe with more room than the plane we were on for the flight from Australia to Japan!
Because we purchased a JR 7 day pass we jumped on the Hiroshima Circle tour bus for free, winning! This is a fab and easy way to see the sights.
We visited a castle, there were ruins to explore and as I read the words on the various monuments it all started to feel heavy on the heart. Hiroshima has endured much but man, this beautiful city is resilient too.
After a visit to the restored castle we made our way back to the bus stop and waited to hitch a ride to the next stop, the buses come about every 15 minutes so there’s not too much waiting around but also not feel rushed, you can take your time to explore too.
Next stop for us was to the site where the first ever Atomic bomb dropped at 8:15am August 6th 1945. The bomb exploded approximately 600m above and 160m southeast of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, ripping through and igniting the building instantly killing everyone in it. This site is known as the A-bomb zone.
The bomb stole the lives of over 200,000 people and an area of 2km radius was turned into ashes. The devastation was immediate and long lasting. People lost loved ones, witnessed horrors, were maimed, were left homeless with no income and the physical and mental side effects have a long lasting effect with cancer and various other medical conditions attributed to the A-bomb.
How a city and country remember those lost in Hiroshima
As the city was rebuilt and other A-bomb buildings vanished the community called for the A-bomb site to be preserved. A public fundraising campaign saw donations funneled towards preservation of the site and also the creation of ‘Peace Park’.
In December 1996 the A-bomb Dome was registered on the world Heritage List as a historical witness conveying the horror of the first use of a nuclear weapon and as a world peace monument.
Today we were able to see the site, the museum and also Peace Park. I am not ashamed to say I cried on more than one occasion.
I sat frozen with tears streaming as I toured the museum and watched videos of survivors.
I had tears of joy as I watched dozens of groups of school children tour the area.
I stood solemnly as one group sang a song and then proudly hung 1000 cranes all joined together and made by the children of the school.
One girls hope and how she still inspires others
The 1000 paper cranes represents the life (and passing) of Sadako Sasaki who was exposed to the A-bomb when she was just 2. She escaped without injury but at 11 like many other children was suddenly diagnosed with leukaemia. She continuously folded paper cranes hoping they would bring her luck and help her to recover. Custom says 1000 paper cranes will bring luck and good health, sadly after 8 months she died. Her death triggered a movement to build a monument for all the children who perished and today children worldwide make and send paper cranes to be hung at Peace Park. Yeah, it gets me in the heart too, go take a moment to dab your eyes.
As we wandered around the park we took in the eternal flame monument and surrounding gardens but the eeriness and sadness of the A-bomb site with the new city in the backdrop was a reminder of the horror man can inflict. May it be that this kind of horror is never inflicted again.
Let us always remember
A small group of Japanese primary school students and their teacher approached, eager to ‘interview’ us. They asked our names, where we were from and why we visited Hiroshima (could barely get the words out through the tears), all the while one student wrote down our answers. We asked our own questions too, turns out they were on excursion from Osaka.
To finish they asked me to write a message of peace. I left them with this… through sadness and pain can come great resilience and triumph but may we never forget and always honour those taken far too soon.
Hiroshima, I will never forget what I saw, learned and felt today.