When I began planning this trip I noted there would be two core activities I wanted to experience: The Mt. Fuji Climb and the Hiroshima Peace Ceremony. For the grossly uninformed, Hiroshima was the first city ever attack by nuclear weapons (though technically an atom bomb is different from a nuclear bomb, but the point is the same) at 815am on August 6, 1945. Every year, in an effort to remind the world about the dangers of nuclear weapons and armed conflict in general, a ceremony is held to honor those lost and cherish the hope that one day the world will truly be at peace.
So first, Mami arrived!!! at 1110pm on August 5. It was so good to see her again and I am so happy she decided to join me.
We woke up the next morning at 630am so that we could make it to the ceremony. We were able to make it to the ceremony just in time for the peace bell. At 815am, across Japan, there is a moment of silence as the bell is struck to remember those fateful seconds before the bomb made impact. At the ceremony we were addressed by the Mayor of Hiroshima, the Prime Minister of Japan and, surprisingly, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Some shots from the ceremony.
It was quite an interesting mood. I did get asked a couple times about why the US does not attend the ceremony (the only missing delegations were from China and the US) and about our current wars. In both cases, I politely refused to answer the question; not the time nor the place for such a discussion, after all.
After the ceremony we took a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Museum. The images in here are both amazing and disturbing. The scale of the destruction caused by the bomb is incomprehensible, even more so when you consider the bomb only released 1/4 of its power.
But the portion of the museum dedicated to those who had the misfortune of surviving the blast and experience a true “hell on earth” is both saddening and deeply disturbing, such as the images of those with melted skin as depicted in the model below:
Once we left the museum I decided to purchase a Japanese Cell Phone. Quite honestly, I have not been at all impressed with my Windows Phone here in Japan; whether that is to be directed at the device, Verizon, or the general complexities of cellular communications, I do not know. But since I had Mami with me, I could rest easy going to Softbank knowing that she could take care of the questioning.
Amazingly, we went to three Softbank stores and all three showed us the same phones with the same pricing plans (there also within 5m walking), yet the phones differed heavily in price (between 9,000 yen (~$90) to 2,500 yen (~$25). It really is amazing to me how different the industry here is compared to America. I finally settled on a nice flip phone. This is good because when I do return to Japan, I will have a phone and needn’t rely on my American Cell Phone where coverage has been sporadic (non-existent in Hiroshima since I don’t have a SIM card).
So now we decided to head to Miyajima, a huge tourist spot for foreigners and Japanese alike. The only problem with it is, if you arent careful you could end up with a LONG train ride. There are two ports that will serve ferries to take you to the island (jima). Miyajima-guchi is the one that is really far away (and where we ended up), you should always try to go to Hiroshima Port (which was closed when we tried to return).
Miyajima reminds me a lot of Nara, especially cause of the deer, which are apparently so hungry they will snatch paper right out of your hand. In fact, I bought some karaage and one decided he would follow me until I gave him it. Thankfully, I was able to outsmart him by using some low hanging chains:
After visiting the island we headed back to Hiroshima city for the final part of the Peace Ceremony, the lighting of the Lanterns. I am told this is a truly inspiring sight and was eager to see it. It was truly breathtaking, below are some of the shots that I took from Aioi-dori bridge near the Peace Pak.
Special thanks to Mami-chan for helping me around all day and to Shiori-chan for coming later after work. It was just awesome, a great time and I was happy to finally experience this ceremony in person. Hontoni arigatou gozaimashita
I guess to close on the thoughts, I made it a point to avoid any conversation about nuclear power or weapons while I was at the ceremony. I can certainly explain the politics of the bomb and I do believe that it saved more people then it killed which was why it was dropped. Interestingly, while I was in Hiroshima I witnessed a march down on the busiest streets. At first I thought it was for the Abandonment of Nuclear Weapons, but it turned out to be the opposite.
There is a movement in Japan to repeal the Peace Constitution and begin arming themselves. As China has grown into a power and the situation on the Korean peninsula continues to be precarious, sometimes they wonder if the US could still protect them. Observing this march and the number of police surrounding them, I came to compare it to a KKK rally in the South.
Overall, the Hiroshima leg of the trip was a ton of fun and totally worth coming down here. While I had worried about it being awkward, it wasn’t at all, I think Mami had a lot to do with that. With her there acting as a translator, I was put at ease and was able to fully enjoy things. Day 4, we head to Osaka for the next leg of the trip.