No trash talk today,
my dear. I'm finally back home from Hiroshima and just outside of
Tokyo, the bullet train slid to a stop (IN A TUNNEL!) and the lights
went out. In 24 years of riding the Shinkansen, I've NEVER
had that happen! An announcement came over the P.A. system explaining
that there had been an earthquake, and that the train company was
terribly sorry for the inconvenience, but would we please be patient?
You could have heard a pin drop. All I kept thinking was, "We're
in a mountain tunnel! We're in a mountain tunnel! Earthquake! Tunnel!"
We were only stopped for five minutes, but it was unnerving. Got home
to a shivering dog sitting in the entry, a few pics askew on the walls
and some books dumped on the floor. Apparently there were tsunami
warnings for the area where my friend has his beach house. We're actually
having another tremor as I type this now!
Uni classes don't
start until next week, so seeing as how I had today off, I decided
to spend last night in Hiroshima and go to the Peace
Park. This is something I think EVERYONE should do, ESPECIALLY
ALL world leaders! It's a real eye-opener. EVERYONE should also watch
OF THE FIREFLIES. It's Japanese anime, but not for children.
I've watched it once, and don't think I'll ever be able to watch it
again. I'm positive I've never cried so hard in my life.
On the fifteen minute
walk from the hotel to the park, down Heiwa Odori (Peace Street/boulevard),
all I kept thinking was, 66 years ago, none of this was here; it was
nothing but a burned-out, atomic wasteland. None of these beautiful
shade trees were here. August 6th, 1945, 8:15 a.m. there was a huge
flash, an unimaginable inferno, and the whole world changed.
The cherry trees
were in gorgeous full bloom along both sides of the river, but I could
only think of blasted, charred stumps. The weather was absolutely
beautiful, but all that was running through my mind was what would
it have been like on that terrible, terrible day, with the raging
fires and the unbearable Japanese summer temperatures and humidity.
The river was a deep green, but I kept imagining it running black
with ash and debris, its surface clogged with the burned, bloated
corpses of hundreds and thousands of the dead.
I could easily imagine
the survivors staggering through the ash, shredded clothing and melted
skin hanging off them in ribbons and strips, making their way to the
water because they were literally dying of thirst only to wade in
and die. Most of those, tens of thousands of them, were women, children
and those unable to serve in the military. Civilians. Innocents. People
like you, me, our families, friends and neighbours. Six thousand preteens
and teens were taken out of school to work in the factories, tear
down buildings to make fire lanes and do things that no child should
have to do, and were killed while working for their country. SIX
It was at the Children's
Memorial that I got the lump in my throat and my eyes started to prickle.
KIDS! Every once in a while I would hear a trolley clang its way down
the street and in my mind's eye I would see the photos of burned out
trolley cars, the insides filled with the ashes of their vaporized
passengers. The weeping willow trees along the river were just starting
to put out a beautiful, bright green haze of new leaves. It's a fitting
tree to have growing alongside the rivers, because the Japanese say
that ghosts live in weeping willows. The willows of Hiroshima bear
a heavy burden...
I left the Dome
Memorial and wandered across the famous T-shaped bridge, the supposed
target for the A-bomb because it was centrally located and easily
identified from the air, and walked down the opposite bank of the
river heading towards the museum. I've been inside once, and was thinking
that I shouldn't go in again today, considering how sad I was feeling.
I went in...
At the very beginning
of the exhibit is a three minute video talking about the bomb, and
there's an enormous explosion in one scene. Every three minutes you
hear that huge rumbling sound. Every three minutes; all the way up
through the open two-story exhibit hall. Once every three minutes.
It kept reminding
me of the rumbling, roaring sound we heard the afternoon of March
11th, when the first quake hit, and I started to get sweaty and tense,
so moved quickly over to the other side of the museum where I couldn't
hear the bomb exploding anymore. This section of the building is silent,
but it's where you get to see the human side of the hell those people
went through 66 years ago; bloodstained, torn clothing, a baby's little
cotton shorts, school uniforms, little shoes, shirts, blouses, shredded
pants, clumps of hair, fingernails and skin, melted lunch boxes, melted
glasses, a section of a white plastered wall stained by the black
rain, tea cups fused together from the unbelievable inferno...
The front steps
of a bank sit in a prominent place, and you can see the shadow of
the person who was vaporized while sitting there waiting for the bank
to open. I had seen it before and didn't want to see any more, so
I left. They have long upholstered benches that you can sit on at
the end of the exhibit so that you can look through the glass walls
back along the mall, through the memorial arch, past the eternal flame,
past the cherry trees and shade trees and willows all the way back
to the dome. It's here that most people sit to weep before going back
outside to the present.