2 years ago Steve visited Hiroshima, he was impressed with how the city has been totally rebuilt after the bombing, he also told me he was moved to tears by the Peace Museum. He was keen to take me there this year and I’m so grateful that Lyle organised a 4 day trip to Hiroshima for us in his memory. In just over 4 hours the super-fast bullet train from Tokyo arrived at Hiroshima. Our hotel had such lovely views across the bay. What impressed me the most from our 16th floor room was the tiny peaked mountain island in the bay, so very Japanese and the boats gliding across the misty calm waters, so relaxing to watch.
From our room we could also see the hotel swimming pool which I was banned from using because of my tattoos, I offered to cover them but the hotel receptionist refused to give me a pool pass. Never mind, I went to the hotel’s onsen instead that very night and covered my tattoos with 3 plasters. I don’t think anyone noticed, it was 11.00 pm not many people were taking an onsen. The idea behind an onsen, or public bathing, is that you wash yourself thoroughly over a low sink, sitting on a small stool and when you’re completing clean, you bath in a communal pool. One of the pools was outside and at midnight with the air temperatures still at 27 degrees, it’s quite an experience, soft brown lighting illuminating the waters. Such a relaxing thing to do after an incredibly busy day.
There are so many things to see at the Peace Memorial Park, the Peace Gates, enshrined with the words PEACE in 47 languages, the Peace Flame that will burn until all nuclear weapons are abolished, the Children’s Peace Monument with the statue of Sasaki Sadako lifting up a folded paper crane. She believed that if she folded 1000 cranes she would cure herself of the effects of radiation, sadly she died before she finished making the cranes. As a sign of respect, every day people bring paper cranes from all over Japan and the rest of the world to this monument, I brought one too.
But the place where I cried was the Peace Memorial Museum, I felt so upset, I had to leave the exhibition, compose myself and return. It was the stories written in the children’s diaries that touched me. One particular page came from a young girl who described the chores she’d carried out that morning, sweeping, looking after her brother, her page was decorated with flowers and patterns she’d drawn. So full of promise. And yes, there were children’s and baby clothes on display covered in blood and sometimes streaked with the black radiated rain that fell from the skies after the initial blast.
So many lives destroyed instantly but the accounts of the injuries and the suffering that continued long after the bomb was detonated was difficult to read. The exhibition was full of hard facts about the science of nuclear weapons too there was also a display highlighting the peace treaties and plans to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 2020. Not sure how likely that’s going to be, especially with the news from North Korea this week about their nuclear tests.
What do you do after spending 2 hours at the Peace Memorial Park? It’s a tough one, our mood was flat but we were both hungry and thankfully we stumbled upon Hondori, an area I’m certain Steve visited, ordered ice cold beers and lots of fried tempura.
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