Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Japan Days 13,14, & 16: Hiroshima

Hiroshima was a welcome change from Kyoto in that nearly everything we wanted to see and do was within easy walking distance from our front door. Hiroshima is, of course, known for being the target of the first ever attack with a nuclear weapon. Our main goal of visiting the city was to learn more about what happened, how it impacted Japan in the years to come, and honour those who lost their lives to such a deadly and devastating bomb.

The next generation rings for peace
Our AirBnB was located 800 m from the hypocentre of the nuclear blast. The walk from our place to it was lovely and set along the Ota River. In between lies an island, a part of which has now been devoted to the Peace Memorial Park. Many monuments line the path including the Peace Clock, which chimes each morning at 8:15 (the time the bomb hit), the Peace Bell (which you can strike to show your support in ending all nuclear warfare), and the children's memorial (inspired by the true story of Sadako and her thousand paper cranes). Craig and Erin both read this story in elementary school and Erin re-read it before we arrived in Hiroshima. With so many monuments and green space, the crowds were quite dispersed, making for a peaceful walk through an area with such a heavy history.

Across a small road is the cenotaph for the bombing victims, and a flame set to burn until all nuclear weapons on Earth have been decommissioned. These, plus the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, line up perfectly with the hollowed out Atomic Bomb Dome that was left standing amongst the flattened city. Like Japanese gardens, great intention went into the planning of this important site.

Touring the grounds brought forward many memories of our recent trip to Sarajevo, and their war monuments and memorials. We remembered how difficult it was to visit the genocide museum and fully honour and appreciate the exhibits with Baby in tow, so we decided to take turns visiting the  Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. We feel this was the right call given the hushed atmosphere and copious amounts of reading that was displayed.

With all three of us still recovering from a bad cold, Hiroshima was a beautiful place to relax for a few days. We even got to know our dog-walking neighbours with our consistent 7:35 morning walks, which included a daily visit from the kindergarten bus outfitted to look like Thomas the Tank Engine. Baby doesn't know who that is, but trains and buses are two of her favourite things at the moment.

You could easily visit the Hiroshima and hit most of the highlights all in one day because of their close proximity. But we'd highly recommend taking an extra day to visit Itsukushima. But more on that in our next post...

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