Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Japan: Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a beautiful city that truly has been reborn of its ashes.  On August 6, 1945 at 8:15 a.m., Hiroshima lay victim to the first atomic bomb in history.  It's hypocenter in the Nakajima-hon-machi district now the Peace Park, reminds us never to repeat history.  Hiroshima reminds us of the past but even more so, encourages us to find a peaceful tomorrow.  The photos above and below (day and night) are of the A-Bomb Dome.  It is the only building in the hypocenter that survived the bomb.

 This flame has been lit since 1964 and will remain burning until all nuclear bombs in this world have been destroyed.
 The flame during the day.
 A gravestone that survived the blast.  It was in, what used to be, a temple.  The capstone was toppled by the blast.
 Many people don't realize the impact the bomb had on Koreans as well.  Many Koreans were forced laborers for the Japanese military, making guns and ammunition in factories.  Approximately ten percent (about 45,000) of victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were Koreans.  Those who survived the bomb were able to return to Korea (well, actually, Japan made them go back to Korea); however, they weren't received well by Koreans or Japanese.  Koreans were not able to get the assistance from the government like the Japanese and were not accepted into society...one cannot hide that they are a victim when their scars are so apparent.  I read an article of a man who was a victim who concealed his history in order for his children to get married.  Apparently, families wouldn't allow their children to marry children who were victims of the A-Bomb because of possible genetic diseases to their grandchildren. 
Here is a memorial to these Koreans:

 Shortly after the explosion, several corpses were carried here and cremated.  70,000 unidentified victims' ashes lay here.
 Children's Peace Monument.
 This monument is dedicated to all the children that were victims of the A-Bomb.  It is inspired by a girl named Sadako Sasaki who was two years old when the bomb hit, 1.2 miles from the epicenter.  Most of her neighbors died, but she survied the bombing; later to develop leukemia from the radiation.  The Japanese believe that if you fold 1,000 cranes, your wish may be granted.  Unfortunately, at the age of 12, she only made it to 644 cranes.  Inspired by her story, her classmates finished her task and children all over the world have been sending in cranes ever since.  This monument is dedicated to the children with the inscription:  "This is our cry.  This is our prayer.  For building peace in this world."
Several of the cranes sent in have been turned into beautiful art like this one.

 Here are some of Sasaki Sadako's cranes in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.


 Thousands upon thousands of cranes sent in from across the world.
 Why Hiroshima?
Hiroshima was a huge military headquarters, port city, and hadn't had any air raids.  Also, the city didn't have any known prisoner-of-war camps.  Remember, you can always click on these photos to see them larger.
 A man's watch was stopped at 8:15.
 I can't remember exactly what this is, but it was a part of the atomic bomb.
 In case you don't want to click I will retype this:
"At the instant of detonation, the bomb genereated tremendous heat and blast.  Heat from the super-hot fireball raised temperatures on the ground near the hypocenter 3,000 to 4,000 degrees centigrade, lighting fires throughout the city.  The super-high pressure at the epicenter of the explosion generated a shockwave followed by a powerful blast wind that instantly crushed buildings.  Within two kilometers of the hypocenter, most buildings were totally collapsed and burned."
 Photos from the blast in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

 As you've obviously figured out, the great red ball indicates where the bomb exploded.
 The museum displayed sad images of children's clothings that they were wearing during the blast.
 These sorts of stories were incredibly chilling.  Again, in case you can't click, I'll retype:
"Noriaki Teshima was a first-year student at Second Hiroshima Prefectural Junior High School.  He was exposed to the bomb at his building demolition work site.  He suffered major burns over his entire body, to the extent that his skin was dangling in tatters.  With the help of a friend he returned home.  Suffering from terrible thirst, he is said to have tried to suck the puss from his raw, nail-less fingers.  He died in agony on August 7.  His mother kept his fingernails and part of his skin to show his father, who had not returned from the war."
 A little boy was outside riding this tricycle when the bomb hit and died instantly.  His father buried him with his tricycle but later dug it up to donate to the museum.
 One man was sitting on the bank steps, waiting for it to open.  Can you see the dark spot on the steps?  The heat was so intense that the man waiting here was instantly incinerated on the stone steps.  The shadow has faded through rain and wind and eventually brought to the museum.

 The heat infused glass together.
 Thirty minutes after the explosion, it began to rain.  The rain was black, oily and stickey, and full of radioactive elements.  This would only add to the horror.  As told by survivors of the blast, the streets were filled with living zombies crying out for water...missing limbs, unable to walk, unable to talk.  Survivors were told not to give them water from the wells or rain...as that would surely kill them from the toxic rain.  If the radiation in the air wasn't enough, being soaked in radioactive rain would surely cause health problems to those who survived.  This photo shows the black rain.
 No one knew if their friends and family were alive or dead.  They inscripted names of dead and alive all over places, like the walls of this school, to alert others of whether they were alive or dead.
 People were asked to send in drawings of what they saw.  I can't imagine living through this.
 And lastly, the cenotaph.  A cenotaph is a monument erected in memory of someone who is buried elsewhere.  This cenotaph has the names of all the (known) victims killed by the bomb and says, "Rest in Peace, for the error shall not be repeated."
In conclustion, Hiroshima was an amazing place to visit to pay tribute to those who lived through such a horrifying experience.  There are constant reminders and notions for peace throughout the city of Hiroshima.  Let's hope the horror of this day is never repeated.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I remember learning all of this and reading Hiroshima in high school, but these photos and facts really capture what happened. Great documentation of your visit!

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