When we added Hiroshima to our itinerary I thought of so many war memorials and killing fields we have seen recently and over the years. These have been somber places and there had been no joy in the remembrance. Hiroshima in my mind is a reminder of the cruelty of the Japanese in their prosecution of the war, their mistreatment of pows and finally the crushing, merciless blow we inflicted with the only two wartime nuclear explosions ever, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which brought an end to the fighting.
I did not envision getting off the Bullet Train into a crowd of baseball fanatics headed to the stadium next to the train station to see their team the Hiroshima Carps play ball. I did not envision a train station packed with more people coming to town for a festival. I most certainly did not expect to find the Peace Memorial Park, right next to “hyper zero” overflowing with marching bands, dance groups, singing groups and countless celebratory gatherings. To get to the Peace Park we walked along a covered shopping street and stopped at Anderson’s Bakery for lunch. This very special bakery is named for Hans Christian Anderson. It is located in the only building left standing within 360 meters of hyper zero. Well 3 walls and part of a fourth were left and the building was restored. You can read elsewhere about the devastation caused by the one bomb. Hiroshima had been spared the fire bombing so much of Japan experienced because it was on the target list and the military wanted to evaluate the damage from the bomb. Much of the Peace Memorial is devoted to the prevention of nuclear testing, a goal that is still not quite achieved in their immediate neighborhood.
The Carp lost 9-4 to Yokahama. They play again tonight.
We went to Miyajima island and to Itsukushima Shinto Shrine founded CE 593 there. As you approach the Island by ferry you see the Otorii vermillion gate rising 43 feet above the sea bed. This may be one of the most famous sights in Japan. Another contradiction arises. Over the centuries shoguns, kings, Emperor’s and would bes have built shrines on this island which is said to bring them victory in combat. Today the only victory sought there is passing entrance exams. The shrines are devoted to peace and although the entire Island is a shrine, it is also a shrine to consumerism. Approaching the holy precincts is a trip through throngs of shoppers buying everything from food to shoes. We too shopped. As we left we saw a sign at the exit from shrine area “It was prayed well today. Please return carefully.” Another sign just after that reads “May Peace Prevail on Earth”
Tomorrow, Monday, is a full day of touring followed by the beginning of our journey to Los Angeles. We take a bullet train to Kyoto and stay over. Get up early to catch a flight to Haneda domestic airport, transfer to Narita by bus, 50 miles, to catch our flight to LAX. I do expect to write about tomorrow, or post in any event until we are back on Gwhiz.