There will be no attempts by our travellers to insert some witty comments in this post. The city of Hiroshima, despite being rebuilt and portraying a vibrant thriving community, reminds us constantly, as it should, of its tragic history and legacy.
The retirees set off on their self-guided tour of Hiroshima and stumbled across the former Junior High School attended by Sedako Sasaki who tragically died ten years after the Atomic Bomb demolished her community. Her death was a direct result of the incident and thus began the ‘paper crane peace movement’ that was initiated by her classmates. Our travellers would see an abundance of those paper cranes around the city, some in a subtle form and some not so subtle.
The nearby Shukkei-en Gardens provided a calm and peaceful sanctuary. Shukkein means shrunken garden and that is exactly what it was. Its origins date back to 1620 however it was rebuilt and redeveloped shortly after WW2. It contains an original bridge that managed to stay intact and a monument marking the spot where several bodies were found after that fateful day.
The next spot on the historical path was Hiroshima Castle whose surrounds housed the 2nd General Army back in 1945. The site was demolished by the bomb leaving only several trees remaining. The Castle as it stands today was rebuilt in the 1950s and houses a museum.
The Hiroshima Peace Park stands as a solemn space in which various monuments and historical artefacts can be found. The Atomic Bomb Dome serves as the epicentre of the Atomic Bomb blast, however the unexpected remains that still stand are attributed to the bomb being detonated exactly overhead. Its structure and story symbolises the impact from that day, August 6th 1945 at 8.15am.
Something these travellers didn’t know was that there were thousands of High School girls who were seconded from their studies to work for the war effort in Japan in the area of communications. It was actually some students who alerted the rest of Japan as to what had happened that morning. Tragically, so many perished along with so many Koreans who also worked in the area and of course 80,000 Japanese civilians. Monuments around the park serve to remind visitors of this.
As the city started to be completely rebuilt from the late 1940s and into the 50s, it is apparent that it is a very different city to others in Japan. Its wide Peace Promenade along with the design of its buildings are a testament to that. Whilst the city is barely 80 years old in infrastructure, it’s historical past is very evident.
A very sobering day. I remember reading the Sedako book to kids at Yarraville, a tough read.
Thanks for sharing.
Amazing to see how they’ve managed to rebuild, but never forget. So many paper cranes still to this day, I love that.