Hiroshima is truly a bustling, modern city whose heart is a monument to the A-bomb devestation. Even though I came here on a weekend and the peace park was crowded, it was also very quiet. I moved from monument to monument, making sure to stop at the children's monument (with packed plastic lockers stuffed with countless colorful origami cranes), the peace light, and and Korean memorial. What I had not known was that about 10% of the 200,000 people who lost their lives on that August morning were Korean slaves, shipped across the water to work in the factories. The monument is relatively new, a sign of some of the tension that continues today (the children and grandchildren of these prisoners are still unable to attain Japanese citizenship).
Overlooking all of this was the dome. When the bomb fell on August 6, 1945, it left the shell of the prefectural hall. At the time, there was great debate about whether to let the remains stand or to tear them down. In the end, the decision was to keep it.
There are many elderly people in the parks and I can't help but wonder if they were here when the bomb fell.
At one end of the park lies the peace museum. Inside, it was interesting to see the before and after pictures of the city. The purpose of the museum is to depict the devastation of nuclear warfare in the hopes that such a weapon is never used again. One wall is covered with copies of letters of protest. The mayor of Hiroshima writes one to every country that performs a nuclear weapons test. The last three were to the US.
By the time I reached the end of the museum, where the science behind splitting the atom are explained, my brain was officially fried.
A short ferry ride later and I am on Miyajima, an island so sacred that women were not allowed on on it until the 1800s and even now peolple leave the island to have babies or to die so as not to pollute the land.
The first thing I see when stepping off the boat are deer. Tame deer roam the city looking for handouts. Despite the signs, some tourists oblige, while others lose pieces of their brochures and maps to the more agressive creatures. The children took great delight in chasing after the animals, grabbing tails and fistfulls of hair. I kept waiting for someone to get kicked or bitten but no deer on child mayhem occured during my stay.
My hotel was right along the pier, a small family run joint, mine host was a lovey lady who shared her establishment with her black cat: Kuro-chan (Kuro is japanese for black, while chan denotes either a child or pet). Kuro-chan is an elderly gentleman cat who regally accepted my fussing. He and mine host were still mourning his female companion who had recently passed away.
I took advantage of the good weather and went for a walk before dinner. Across the mountains behind me, thick, black clouds rolled through. As I turned around to return to the inn, the rain begain to fall. And me, of course, without an umbrella! I think I gave mine host a shock as she rushed out to me with an umbrella. But, it felt good to walk in the rain. There really is no sensation quite like it. I think it is good for the soul. Provided you are not headed to work, that is.
Upon climbing the stairs of my in, however, I realized that none of the doors were marked. And I couldn't remember which one was mine. I think I tried every single one before getting the right door. Luckily, no one else seemed to have arrived yet.
At dinner, it was one delicious dish after another either explained by mine host, or another employee who I began to think of as the young man. Sashimi, tempura, grilled oyster... all washed down with nama biru (draft beer). Yum! I am going to be one stuffed dumpling when they roll me back onto my plane.