Monday, June 20, 2011

Peace in Hiroshima... (Part 1)

Amanda, Kayla Horton, Christina Collazo, and I ventured down to meet up with Christina Chirico in Hiroshima for the weekend. It's about a 4 hour bullet train ride south-west from Tokyo to Hiroshima in the Chugoku Region.  Visiting this city was definitely more of a history lesson than anything.  I would recommend the trip to anyone visiting Japan!  It was an erie feeling walking around in a beautiful city full of open parks, rivers and monuments and knowing the destruction and devastation this city has gone through.
In front of the Aioi Bridge and the A-bomb Dome.

When the first atomic bomb, named the "Little Boy" was dropped over Hiroshima by the Enola Gay on August 6, 1945, at 8:15am, the city became known worldwide for this unenviable distinction.  The destructive power of the bomb was tremendous and obliterated near everything within a two kilometer radius, including an estimated 80,000 people.  About 69% of the buildings were destroyed and 7% were severely damaged.  The A-bomb Dome is what remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, left exactly how it lay immediately after the bomb.  Right next to the Dome is the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which was the aiming point for the atomic bomb.
Cranes representing prayers for peace for a 2yo Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki,
who later developed leukemia from the radiation and died and the
age of 12.  In a hope for peace on Earth, she folded a thousand
origami paper cranes before her death.
"This is our cry.  This is our Prayer.  Peace on Earth."
People visiting from all over the world
fold a thousand paper cranes and turn them
into masterpieces displayed in the park.
After the war, great efforts were taken to rebuild the city.  Predictions that the city would be uninhabitable proved false.  Britain over took the city shortly after for a little bit, so there is a European influence on some of the buildings and parks that were rebuilt, including the widest streets in a larger city in Japan.  Destroyed monuments of Hiroshima's historical heritage, like Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Garden, were reconstructed.  In the center of the city a large park was built and given a name that would reflect the aspirations of the re-born city:  Peace Memorial Park.

The Cenotaph with the names of the victims in a tomb.
There is a reflection pond right behind it with an eternal
flame for hope burning in the middle of the pond.
Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park is one of the most prominent features of the city.  Before the bomb, the park was the political and commercial heart of the city.  Now it's a beautiful, open park with the Peace Museum and other monuments/memorials.  Between the Museum and the A-Bomb Dome is the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims. The Cenotaph is an arched tomb for those who died because of the bomb, either because of the initial blast or exposure to radiation. Below the arch is a stone chest holding a register of these names, of which there are over 220,000.

A monument where "time stood still" at 8:15am on
August 6, 1945.
Amanda, Christina, Kayla, Christina, and I in front of the A-bomb Dome.
The A-bomb Dome at night.  There is a gate surrounding it
to preserve the building in the exact way it laid after the bomb.

This memorial was "Peace" written in every language!
Reflection pond in the middle of the Peace Park.
Hopefully, by now you can see the overwhelming
theme taking over the city... PEACE!  Thousands
of origami paper cranes from all over the world!

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