Japan – Hiroshima

We caught the bus to the funicular to get down off the mountain and catch the train to make our way to Hiroshima. Our travels today would take us from Gokurakuhashi (the drop off from the funicular), on the Nankai train line, to Hashimoto and then to Shin-imamiya. In Shin-imamiya, we picked up the local Japan Rail line and traveled to Shin-osaka where we caught the shinkansen (bullet train) to Hiroshima.

We arrived in Hiroshima around 2:00 to be greeted by pouring rain. Honestly, we couldn’t complain because we had such nice weather for the whole trip. This was our first day of rain and for the most part, it was a travel day. Plus, we were prepared with our Gore-tex!

At the train station, we caught the tram to our hotel. We later discovered, our hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the train station. I was grateful for the tram with the rain.

The hotel was Hotel Active, another business hotel. The guide book said it was one of the “most stylish” in Japan. It was nice…upbeat music, young people at the reception, buffet breakfast included and all for $75. We thought it was one of the better places that we had stayed. Oh, and the bed was a double…most of the other rooms we had stayed in had twin beds!

After checking in, we headed on the tram for the Peace Memorial Park. On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This picture is of the A-Bomb Dome and is located just across the river from the Peace Park. This building, the Industrial Promotion Hall, was destroyed when the bomb exploded directly over it. The ruins are now a Unesco World Heritage site and an eternal reminder of the tragedy.

Throughout the park, there are several memorials. One is the cenotaph which has the names of all the known victims of the bomb. The cenotaph frames the Flame of Peace and will only be extinguished once the last neuclear weapon on earth has been destroyed.

Another moving memorial was the Children’s Peace Monument. It was inspired by Sadako Saski who developed leukemia at the age of 10. She decided to fold 1000 paper cranes, an ancient Japanese custom where it is believed that a person’s wishes will come true. Also, the crane symbolizes longevity and happiness in Japan. Sadako was convinced that if she made the 1000 paper cranes, she would be healed. Sadly, she was unable to reach her goal before she died. Her story inspired people, especially children, to continue making paper cranes. Many of them are displayed behind the Children’s Memorial sculpture in small plexiglass structures.

The Peace Memorial Museum walks the visitor through the history before, during and after the dropping of the atomic bomb. It was very informative, powerful and moving experience. Plus, since it was a rainy Saturday afternoon, it was very crowded! A couple of points of interest that I took away from my visit were:

1. Japan was in a very weak state when the bomb was dropped. Most of the major cities had been bombed very badly.

2. It was said in part of the exhibit that even though Japan was badly damaged, they almost had to drop the bomb to justify the 2 billion dollars spent and the 120,000 man hours used to develop it. Plus, they wanted to see the affect that it would have when actually dropped. Could this be true?

I looked on the internet and found an interesting article analysing President Truman’s decision. It referred to people who question Truman’s choice are referred to as Revisionist. According to this article, one of the main reasons Truman dropped the bomb was to prevent having to send troops into Japan. A decision that would have been costly both financially and in American lives. If you want to read the article for yourself it is at: http://www.essortment.com/all/presidenttruman_rywp.htm

I really need to read the report closer but find it disheartening that these concepts are being presented in a forum that is visited by people from around the world on a daily basis. Especially, if there is more than one theroy that should be taken under consideration.

The city of Hiroshima was bombed because of the good weather and the fact that there were no US prisoners of war being held in the city. Over 180,000 people were killed in Hiroshima. Three days later, on August 9th, the second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagaski and 80,000 people died. There have been more deaths attributed to cancers and leukemia due to the exposure of the radiation from the bombs.

We were in the museum until closing time at 5:00. From the Peace Park, we walked back over the river to the shopping area, Hon-dori. It was another coverd, pedestrian area with several stores for several blocks. We were looking for Okonomi-mura to eat dinner, which I had read about in the travel guide.

Okonomi-mura is a group of 27 eating counters on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floor of the Shintenchi Plaza building. It took awhile, but we found it and it was very, very busy! Each one of the eating counters served its version of the hiroshima-yaki. It is an egg-based pancake, cooked on a grill where you are sitting, made with noodles, cabbage, meat or fish and topped with a fried egg and soy sauce. They are really, really good and filling.

After dinner, we made our way back to the hotel. It had been another long day of traveling!

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