So when I last left off (last month…), our fearless duo had just finished stuffing themselves full of momiji manju and grilled eel bentos and decided to head into Hiroshima city proper to do a little bit of sightseeing. Now, besides Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, the other two cities in Japan that probably most people in America have heard of are Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for obvious reasons. And of course, if you find yourself in Hiroshima as a tourist, the first stop one usually makes is the Genbaku Dome (“Atomic Dome”) and the Peace Memorial Park with its Peace Memorial Museum.
I am in no way qualified to talk about World War II, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima or modern day controversies related to nuclear weapons as I know very little beyond what I was taught in school, saw on the History Channel or learned in the museums. So rather than try to write about it from any position of authority, I think I’ll just post a few pictures and leave it at that. If you want to know more, you can of course check out the links above, or else head down to your local library for some educational reading.
All in all, we saw some interesting things that made us think during our time in Hiroshima. In many ways, the effect of the atomic dome and the peace museum were nullified by the excesses of modern warfare – as horrifying at the atomic bombings were, they are outdone in every way by the cruelties of modern (non-atomic) conflicts which may lack their own dedicated memorials or infamy, but result in hundreds of thousands of more deaths than these bombs ever caused. In a way, I felt desensitised by the staggering images of violence we see every day on the television, and the immaculately maintained and pristine surroundings of the Peace Park (with children running around couples on dates, musicians playing for cash) only furthering the difficulty of focusing on what the dome and museum represented. The overwhelming feeling I came away with was that yes, nuclear weapons are terrible, but they have nothing on regular people, armed with nothing more than guns, machetes, or sometimes even just sticks and stones, and all the evil they do on each other in the modern day.
But still, it was a thought-provoking window into another time that seems alien to me now, traipsing merrily across the Japanese countryside where my biggest worry is whether I should stop at 7-11 or Lawsons to pick up a riceball for lunch, because everyone knows that 7-11 has better riceballs, but on the other hand, Lawsons sometimes has cute toys on the shelves next to the instant ramen and who doesn’t want to buy a toy with their lunch?
So if you ever find yourself in Hiroshima, then I think you should stop by and see it for yourself.
More pictures after the jump below.
And that was Hiroshima. We also stopped by a restaurant for some traditional Hiroshiyama Okonomiyaki, but that was the second-biggest culinary disappointment (the charred corpse of a baby bird impaled on a stick obviously being the first) of the entire journey and so it doesn’t merit going into further detail in this post (I couldn’t even be bothered to take a picture, that’s how much it sucked). As the sun began to set, we found ourselves both physically and mentally tired from a day that started with us racing to beat the sunrise from Shikoku, continued with us traipsing all over sacred island shrines whilst dodging killer deer, and concluded with us spending hours watching taped interviews with survivors of atomic bombings. Bidding Hiroshima a fond farewell (minus the crappy okonomiyaki), we jumped in the car and started heading out West into the rapidly falling night to our next destinations – one of Japan’s “three most beautiful sights” and a town sharing a name with a U.S. President you all have probably heard of
Now listening to: “Jay-Z feat. Rihanna & Kanye West – Run this Town”