Today, SIL and BIL left to go back to Tokyo for a couple days before heading home, while we went on to Hiroshima.
We arrived and couldn’t check in yet so we went straight to the Peace Memorial Park. I wanted us to visit the Peace Memorial Museum while Kiddo was napping as I read that the museum has strong images. This meant we were at the park letting her run around for almost 3 hours! Hubby still was feeling unwell, so Kiddo and I ran around and found lots of stuff to be amused with, for example, a frog she spotting under a tree and a paper crane that a nice woman gave her.
We also saw the dome topped building, which was just below the spot where the bomb exploded, so it wasn’t totally incinerated, the peace flame, and the statue in honor of Sadako and her thousand paper cranes (now it is a monument to all children vicitims of the bomb/a children´s call for peace monument). I read a book about Sadako when I was younger and it affected me very much. That was actually the only point at which I cried in the museum – when Sadako´s story was chronicled with pictures and captions.
Finally, Kiddo slept and we went into the museum. At first, we were not that impressed. It was just posters with captions about Hiroshima´s history as the location of the army´s fifth division. But I see the point in establishing that Hiroshima was involved with war from a very early age, although they never came out and said that is why it was a target, or maybe I missed that poster. Then, things started to get heavy. They have a wall where the mayor of Hiroshima has sent a letter of protest every time a nation has tested a nuclear weapon. A copy of the letter in Japanese and English had been made into a metal plaque in A5 size (half of A4). The plaques cover three walls and have just had to creep over the beginning of a fourth. A sobering thought about the failure of the international community to learn from the human tragedy of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) and stop building and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. There is also a model of the city before and after the bombing. A stark and sad image
Upstairs was the real tear jerker stuff. They have the charred and tattered clothing remains, mostly from kids who were working on the war effort in groups outside when the bomb hit, so they were either instantly killed or badly burned and died hours later. Each article of clothing comes with a story of the person who was wearing it in their final hours – a schoolboy who always helped his mother, a schoolgirl who had made the uniform herself, a girl only identified because she was wearing a shirt her family bought her in the Philippines that no one else would have in Japan at the time. It was very hard to read about.
The worst was probably the pictures of the burned people. They look fake, the pictures. Human skin should not char. It was horrible.
The problem with the whole experience is: you go inside, you feel so many emotions, and then you walk out into the sunlight and think, what the hell!? What can be done! It has been almost 70 years since this tragedy, and still, we keep testing nukes, holing up our stocks, and claiming we have to do so to keep us safe. But this museum is a chronicle of how safe they keep us – which is to say – there is nothing safe about nuclear arms!
I sincerely hope no other group of people has to experience that again.
So, we walked out of the museum and were at a loss about what to do. We ended up walking home and just hanging out – letting Kiddo walk her iPad while we sort of sat around, glazed. And then we went out for dinner!