Jan 8th, First evening in Hiroshima. One thing which is quite surprising is how busy and built up the city is, clearly the last 50 years have been an incredible growth period, and it is quite amazing how it has bounced back after the A bomb. My hotel room had a magnificent view, over looking the Peace Park and the city from the 12th floor at night makes a great photo.
Took dinner in the hotel’s Italian restaurant, which was very good and again had an excellent view – this time the 15th floor. After this it was quite late, but I ventured out anyway and headed along the river towards the centre of town. The river bank opposite from the peace park was a nice walk and not many people around, will be back for photos tomorrow however. Got to an area noted as an Arcade on the map and guide, and although was quite interesting with the masses of slot machine places and a few restaurants, most seemed to be closing up for the night and only a few bars still seemed to be open but almost empty, the hundreds of taxis which were slowly roaming through the streets in a long winding line seemed to suggest everyone was heading out of there, so I also headed back. Unfortunately I had managed to not remember the correct way back, and after 30 minutes of wondering gave up and got a taxi back like everyone else.
Jan 9th – Visit to the Peace Park and Museum. The museum sites right at the start of the Peace Park, and has been expanded into a second building. I decided to go for the full tour experience and hired the audio guide, a clever flash based player where you simply press the button for the number of the sign and press play. Having over 50 separate tracks, and taking me the entire day to look round, it is quite an impressive museum and tour. They cover everything from explaining the A bomb itself, to a history of Hiroshima before and after, as well as detailed coverage of the effects of the A bomb, some which are quite disturbing, particularly the accounts of the young children who were burnt so badly that hardly any skin remained, and yet still managed to struggle to try to get home. The sad truth that they all died shortly after, either from the horrific injures or from the radiation makes it even more of a saddening story. Then there is the story of the schoolgirl who initially was a survivor with good health until in the 6th grade she became ill and developed leukaemia, all from being exposed to the radioactive ‘Black Rain’ while trying to escape the aftermath with her mother. She is quite famous for trying to make 1,000 paper cranes as tradition tells that if you can fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will come true. Through her determination, she did in fact make well over 1,000 by herself, unfortunately her wish was not granted and her condition worsened until her death a short time later. Her story reached world wide following, and school children still make and send in paper cranes. Some of the original she made are on exhibition at the museum.
On a another level which people may find disturbing is how a certain last remaining super-power has contemplated the use of Atomic weapons in other situations following Hiroshima. There is on display a list which shows the dates and incidents in which that country has contemplated dropping a nuclear bomb in war in other places, this list is quite shocking, and practically amounts to every conflict they have been in to date. The museum gives a very un-biased account of the events, and displays many interesting items on what countries have such weapons at present. They also play a very active role, as does the city itself, in trying to rid the world of atomic weapons, and there is a torch which they vow to keep burning until the last one has been disarmed.