The bomb exploded almost directly above this building
Following last nights rousing turn in the karaoke lounge, we got a little bit of a late start. In fact, when I tried to wake Jeff from his robot brown double whisky (that name just sounds like a hangover!) daze, he just muttered and yoppori (which means drunk in Japanese). After a little coaxing we made it to the train station at noon, which was a slight problem since Hiroshima is about 2 hours away. We had planned to also go to Miyajima
, which is a picturesque little island with floating torii gates and awesome hikes, but that got scraped in favor of hitting the A-bomb memorial.
Although very difficult to see and to witness, I think that Hiroshima is a place that everyone, especially Americans needs to visit.
These signs are made out of cranes!
I teach World War II and state very matter of factly that the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I've never really taken the time to think of what that entailed, or to make my students genuinely reflect on the ramifications of those actions. Not only was the memorial and museum devastating and horrifying, but it was thought-provoking and pushed me to really examine the justifications that America used for doing such a terrible act. The museum was incredibly non-biased, which actually surprised me, for I had come thinking that a pro-Japanese lean would be apparent. The exhibits very directly examined economic, political and military reasons for why America used the bomb, and actually acknowledged Japan's more controverial indiscretions- Korean slave labor and the Rape of Nanking, for example.
Coming face to face with the damage that a nuclear bomb does to a human body, immediately after the explosion and then for days, weeks and years to come was the single most compelling argument against nuclear weapons, and every politician who advocates their use needs to see a small fraction of those exhibits and their minds will be changed. I think it is pretty amazing for the city to have made such an incredible effort to stand in vigil against the use of nuclear arms and as a dynamic witness to the devastation they cause. Even though it was a very long trip for such a small visit, it was definitely worth it.
Another cool thing was the thousand cranes that were a focus of hiroshima. They were started by a little girl named Sadako who got lukiemia from the after-effects of the radiation she was exposed to because of the bomb.
She folded a thousand cranes so that her wish to get better would be fulfilled. Although Sadako died, her actions led to the creation of the Children's A-bomb memorial, where kids and people from around the world send cranes in hope of world peace. Since for our wedding, we had 1000 cranes as part of the theme and incorporated in our invitations and decorations, this was particular powerful for me. The displays of some of the cranes that have been sent were beautiful, especially the pictures that have been created with cranes.
With our historical reality check still weighing heavily upon us, we decided to partake of the regional specialty- kaki, oysters!!!!! After a wild-goose chase (par for the course!!) we ended up at a delicious restaurant where women in kimonos served us, where we took off our shoes and sat at a sunken table.
It was awesome, and the kaki were delicious!!!!!!!!! Back on the shinkansen and we arrive back at our hostel at midnight.
Jimi and Zin and a few of our other long-term hostel friends were up waiting for us with champagne and gifts to send us off! It was our last of 5 days and we have really grown close with the people at Sandalwood. Jimi, especially was delighted when she found out it was our honeymoon and was so excited to check out our wedding pics, which had been posted by our photographer during our stay. When she saw all of the Japanese touches (the 1000 cranes, origami bouttonnieres and kimono style bridesmaid dresses) she was thrilled and we had stayed up late talking about US and Japanese weddings. Zin and her had gotten a bottle of champagne for our send off, with little gold flakes in it! She folded to beautiful cranes for us, and then gave us the most incredible smelling cherry incense, Japanese washi paper bookmarks and stickers.
Champagne and cranes from Sandalwood
It was so touching that she did this for us, and really Sandalwood has been such a huge part of why our stay in Japan has been so incredible. I cannot say enough good things about this hostel, and really really recommend anyone in the area book a stay here!!!