Japan Tales: Hiroshima & Miyajima

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Tuesday was the hardest day. I knew intellectually what had happened at Hiroshima. But there was no way to know until I stood there. I would have thought that I’d be telling you how sad the city of Hiroshima is. How there is this cloud that hangs over it, darkening the mood. But there isn’t. It feels like an upbeat place with school children and young people everywhere.

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This was the most revered spot we stood on during all the time we were in Japan. Where we were there, multiple Japanese came and bowed and prayed. And I felt as an American, I had no right to be there. It was humbling. Thinking about what I saw brings tears to my eyes now. Going through the museum made that feeling both better and worse.

I’m not really sure how to describe the museum. If I spend a lot of time talking about it, it becomes a point-by-point walking tour, which can be supremely uninteresting. I’m much more interested in giving my impressions and the feelings I had. I was fascinated by Japan’s timeline of events for the war. Having only ever read the American descriptions of World War II, seeing it from another nation’s view point was interesting. Seeing articles pulled from the rubble was amazing: glass bottles melted together, shards of glass embedded in concrete, melted and warped steel beams. The human mementos were harder to deal with: blood-stained clothing, a child’s school books with no remains of the child, a pile of skin and fingernails a mother saved from her dying son. At the end of the museum I felt emotionally rung out, dazed and empty.

Despite it all there is hope here. A Japanese legend says 1,000 folded paper cranes make a wish come true. It that were true, millions of wishes would have already been granted to Hiroshima.
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After lunch, we continued on to Miyajima.
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I told Fahmida that this was the Japan I was looking for. Temples, shrines and pagodas. They are the mystery and beauty of the culture I’d been reading about and seeing all of my life.
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It would have been perfect, except for the 1,000% humidity. We didn’t walk around Miyajima so much as swim. But hey, we got to see some truly amazing things that day so I’m not complaining.
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Click on any of the pictures to see all of the photos from Hiroshima & Miyajima.

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