Although Lilo and I stayed in Japan for only about 9 days, we couldn’t miss Hiroshima! We used our Japan Rail pass and rode all the way to Hiroshima train station from Osaka. We arrived on August 7, 2014; we didn’t realize until we arrived that it was the day after the anniversary of Hiroshima, August 6th 1945 – the very day when America dropped the bomb. It caused devastating consequences in Japan, such as radiation exposure. It is one of the most devastating historical events in the world; therefore, it felt surreal for Lilo and I to be there at the site where the bomb was exactly dropped only 69 years ago.
The fact that it still stands here today was surreal, and I couldn’t imagine how devastating it looked right after the bombing – the screams, cries, fires and more. It stood eerily beautiful in a clear blue sky…
There was a speaker nearby the A-Dome who was sharing true stories about that very day. I couldn’t understand what the speaker was saying since she was speaking so fast, so I couldn’t read her lips. I wasn’t quite sure if she was speaking in English or Japanese. Instead of trying to figure out what she was trying to say, I saw many people gathering around the tables, flipping through the albums. Drawing and personal stories will be shown at the site (just like the photo above and below).
Seeing this drawing was mindblowing. I couldn’t imagine how traumatizing that was for everyone who was affected by the A-bomb. I stayed there for a while, couldn’t stop flipping through the albums as I read more and more about their perspectives on America’s decision.
Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students
At the Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students which was surrounded with origami and flowers, elders were paying their respects for their loved ones. I saw them praying silently, and my heart ached for them. I saw this one elderly woman who was praying for couple of minutes. This one elderly woman has a story. She perhaps went through it as a child and lost loved ones. Perhaps she’s a survivor. Who knows? I wish I could listen to her stories.
Children’s Peace Monument
There were a lot of origami and arts from children to honor the loss of children’s lives. There were some local schools nearby at the time of the Hiroshima bomb. This had cost a lot of children’s lives. New generation of children participated to draw arts and made some origami which become part of a monument in the honors of children who passed.
The Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
At the Cenotaph, which is a saddle-shaped roof, it held the names of all those who lost their lives due to the bomb. It said it is a saddle-shaped in the hope of protecting the victims from the rain. There was a long line to say prayers for those who were the victims of A-bomb. Because of the recent anniversary, we got to see it filled with flowers.
Flame of Peace
While I was taking photos of this one, a girl (from the picture) walked up to her mother. She was saying something to her mother, I couldn’t quite catch it – although they might be speaking in different language. However, there was a beautiful moment that I understood: her mother turned her daughter around to face the Flame of Peace and held her hands into prayers and then slowly opened her daughter’s hands as if a flower was blossoming. Her mother then whispered into her daughter’s ears. Her eyes brighten as if she understood something. I looked at Flame of Peace and realized what the mother was trying to say: together, it looked like two hands were trying to hold something – perhaps to hold delicate souls of Hiroshima or something they hope for. According to this, it signifies in the hope for eternal world peace. In between the hands, it would light up a flame in hope to have all nuclear weapon eliminated from the entire earth. “Let’s keep burning the fire until nuclear weapon is eliminated from the entire earth.”
If you are in Japan, you shouldn’t pass Hiroshima. It may be an emotional visit, but it’s too eerily beautiful to miss. All of these monuments are free to visit and are located right outside of Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum. If you tend to take your time, it might take about an hour or an hour and half to take a look of everything outside. Then there’s the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that will take another couple of hours.
From Hiroshima train station, take tram line 2 or 6 to Genbaku-Domu mae station. The transportation may cost about 160yen (~$1.34) each.