With the Japanese countryside once again a blur beyond the window we were heading south. Away from Tokyo and on our way to Hiroshima to see another side of Japan and absorb part of its sad, yet poignant, history.
Yet we were in no rush and afforded a stop once again in Kyoto. This time to get a little bit closer to a Geisha…
… It’s Joyce by the way. Honestly, I didn’t recognise her when she came down the stairs and instead of saying hello I just smiled and returned to whatever I was doing! I don’t think I scored points for that one.
With the white washed off – apart from perhaps behind the ears – we were back on yet another Shinkansen (getting our monies worth!) and heading to Hiroshima.
The first time such a weapon was used on humanity. Its effect. Irreparably shaping the history of not only Hiroshima and Japan, but the entire world.
What is sadder, is that it was not the last.
The museum is an embracing, emotional experience that tugs at your heart strings and lights a fire of anger in your belly to equal measure. One thing is for sure no matter how many times you see wanton bloodshed, destruction and lack of humanity for that most precious of things, human life, it does not get easier (see our posts in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam if you’re interested).
Whilst the exhibit was unable to touch on the deep politics and every avenue of the conflict it admitted rights and wrongs on both sides, and provided a rich explanation on a topic I, in truth, knew little about.
And yet, mixed in with a great deal of sadness, brought into stark focus through a myriad, and seemingly unending, display of eyewitness and personal accounts, the museum and the surrounding park filled me more with hope than hurt.
Since 1968 the mayor of Hiroshima has sent a letter of protest in response to a nuclear test by any country. These are carved in stone plaques in the hall. The latest, from August 2013, to President Barak Obama was typed on paper, not yet transferred. I hope it will be the last.
Understanding that Japan dealt a great deal of damage to other nations before the end of WWII there is a movement within Japanese schools to read international texts detailing the pain, damage and loss of life Japan caused to those nations. So the pain is not repeated.
Hiroshima is a symbol of peace. So are its people. Perhaps none more so than the famous Sadako Sasaki. Exposed to the A-bomb at the age of two she contracted leukemia and sadly passed away at the age of twelve. She believed that folding 1000 cranes could cure her disease; she folded one after another during her hospitalisation.
Sadako’s story has spread throughout the world and the paper crane has become an international symbol of peace. At the base of the Children’s Peace Monument in the park, and throughout Hiroshima – next to other monuments, in restaurants, in guesthouses and lining streets – paper cranes abound.
Spreading their wings and sending their message out into the world.
Please help Hiroshima’s message to travel.
Hiroshima. A city of hope not of sadness. A city propelled forward not held back. Hiroshima. A city we could all learn from.