Posted by: leospurr | March 16, 2009

Important reminders….

a-bomb dome - enough said

a-bomb dome - enough said

The boys and I are back home from an awesome, but quick cultural trip down to Hiroshima and Kyoto.  I’ll split our trip into two blogs – first up – Hiroshima! 

You probably know Hiroshima as one of the targets of the Atomic bomb (the other target was Nagasaki) that eventually ended the Pacific campaign of World War II.  As you can imagine, it is an emotional topic for all involved, and a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum had me holding back tears at every corner.  War is often an uncontrolled necessity, and it always carries horrors with it.  Not having been born, nor even a twinkle in my father’s eye in 1945, this was a valuable tactical and visual experience for me, and I hope, the boys.  Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) were just two of several targets.  Hiroshima became the primary target for August 6th, 1945 because there was no cloud cover.  Think of that, the weather determined the death of over 144,000 people.  Of course, if it hadn’t been Hiroshima, it would have been another Japanese military industrial complex city.  In a Shakespearean sort of tragic way, the primary target, a t-shaped bridge, was left undamaged, while the majority of the city was completely obliterated.  A reminder of the horrors of war remains standing just across the river from the Peace Museum.  The genbaku (A-bomb) dome was the prefectural exhibition hall, completed in 1915.   After the war, it was intended to be demolished with the ruins of the city, but the fact that it was mostly intact delayed the demolition plans.  Several years of debate and controversy ended with it becoming a memorial to the bombing.  I am thankful that it remains.  It would be too easy to gloss over the sorrowful history if it had been demolished and replaced by a slick apartment building.  I have left Hiroshima, but it will never leave me.

Otorii gate in the background

Otorii gate in the background

Not all our time in Hiroshima was somber, however.  A 40-min bus ride outside of town followed by a 10-min ferry ride, and we arrived at Miyajima, an island that is home to the Itsukushima shrine, and Otorii Gate classified as one of Japan’s Three Views (Amanohashidate and Matsushima Bay are the other two).  This present gate has been rebuilt eight times since 1168, most recently in 1875.  It is built out in the sea (we were there during low tide) because the island itself was considered a god.  There are also “wild” deer aplenty on the island.  Wild in that they are not kept in a cage, but suspiciously tame.  Chris was hanging out, hugging, petting, and generally being buds with several of them.  I had to check him for ticks afterwards.  Beware, they eat paper and clothing.  One got a hold of a folder and took a big chomp out of our itinerary. 

Hiroshima is known for kaki (oysters), okonomiyaki (noodles, veggies, meat fried up in a crepe and egg pancake), and momiji monju (sweet bean paste in maple leaf shaped sponge cake).  And yes, we ate all kinds of variations and flavors of each.  Of them all, I’m still craving the oysters.  Big, fat, and so yummy!

Chris with his Samurai face

Chris with his Samurai face

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Responses

  1. Wow–sounds very cool description and some lovely poetic images in there. Thanks. I felt a similar sense of the enormity of history and WWII when I went through some of the concentration camps in Germany. Almost too significant to get my head around.
    d

  2. Hi this blog is great I will be recommending it to friends.

  3. I am glad you had a good trip, I don’t remember if I had ever heard about the weather being a determining factor – how unfortunate… are there any memorials to all the cities we firebombed? I think we killed even more people by firing bombing 10 or 12 cities than the two A-bombs killed. All tragic… especially the radiation sickness – the dome is kinda like the skeleton of all those who became sick and died.

  4. No more tragic, really, than the US Sailors still entombed in the USS Arizona; or the thousands who were murdered on the Bataan Death March; or the “comfort women” who were raped dozens of times a day, every day, by Japanese soldiers; or the victims of the horrific Mengele-esque experiments of Unit 731; or… well, I think you get the picture.

    Please never forget that the Japanese were the aggressors in WWII, and that they systematically committed countless acts of evil–evils which we NEVER even contemplated, much less carried out.

  5. Believe me, I have not forgotten nor will I ever forget the atrocities committed by the Japanese, especially since my mother was victim to the Japanese brutal occupation as a child in Korea.

    I was not in any way comparing the two atrocities. \There is no level of “tragic-ness” that needs to be breached. The atomic bombings and subsequent “collateral” damage was horrendous in and of itself. Please don`t try to justify the act. It is what it is, and it happened due to a host of bad calls on both sides of the pond. Neither the Americans nor the Japanese are completely free from sin on this issue.

    The only thing good to have come out of those bombings, in my humble opinion, is that the memory of those effects have lasted long enough that no country has deemed themselves righteous enough to drop another atomic bomb on a civilian population.


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