24 HOURS IN HIROSHIMA

Ahhh Hiroshima. My last city on my modified eat-pray-love journey of Japan. At this point in my trip, my heart was just overflowing with happiness. I truly felt more like myself in these short 10 days than I have most of 2019, and it was glorious.

ANYWAY.

Hiroshima. I've always been fascinated by WWII history, but tend to focus mostly on the European side of things. Aside from Pearl Harbor, I tend to forget that Japan was involved in the war... until, of course, we dropped the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.

I mentioned in my previous post a little about why I decided on Hiroshima, but here's the SparkNotes: I think it's incredibly important to go out of our way (if we can) to visit places where we can learn from our history and not repeat the same acts in the future. It's why I visited Auschwitz in Poland and places like Dachau in Germany. Especially here, I felt compelled to go to Hiroshima to pay my respects to the citizens of the city as an American and apologize, essentially, for what my country had done to a city that is still feeling the effects to this day.

But when I got to Japan I started doubting all of that. I became so nervous as to how they might treat someone from America (and honestly, who could blame them?) that I debated for a very long time if I should just say I'm Canadian and move on. (Perks of not having a southern accent.) Right before I got on my train though I was reminded by a friend that that would defeat the entire purpose of why I was going to Hiroshima. So off I went, as a (somewhat) proud American.


24-ISH HOURS IN HIROSHIMA


After grabbing a quick breakfast, I got to the Peace Memorial Museum around 9:30 in the morning. I was able to walk right up and get a ticket, but I think I got there right before a huge tour. I watched a video about a high school doing a project with some of the survivors (or Hibakusha), and when I walked out there were so. many. people. I kind of felt like a herd of cattle moving through the museum, and since the hallways are pretty narrow, it was hard to see a lot of the exhibit. And because I felt so claustrophobic at times, it kind of took away some of the impacts of the museum. That's my only complaint though!


The Memorial Museum is so well-done, it's historical and tragic and I learned a lot about the bombings, why Hiroshima was chosen, the effects of the atomic bomb, and how the city is still rebuilding.

There's really not a ton to say about the Museum, because I think it's one of those places you just have to see and experience on your own. I would highly recommend it.

It took me about 2.5 hours to get through the museum, so when I left it was around noon. On my way to search for lunch, I walked through the Peace Memorial Park and past the Children's Peace Monument and the A-bomb Dome.


It wasn't until visiting the museum that I realized how many children were killed when the bomb exploded. There were several school worksites (children who went to "school" in Japan during WWII helped to demolish houses and other buildings to create firebreaks) near where the bomb was dropped, leading to the instant deaths of dozens of children, and terminal illness/injuries in others.


The Children's Monument is a girl holding a paper crane, which is said to be Sadako Sasaki. Sadako initially survived the bombing but was diagnosed with leukemia as a result of the radiation not too long afterward. She set a goal of folding 1,000 origami paper cranes, which was said to bring the folder good luck. Toward the end of her life, her fingers were so swollen that she folded them with needles instead of her hands. She folded well over her goal of 1,000 cranes, and even today children from all over the world fold cranes in her honor, as a symbol of peace.

 

When the bomb was dropped, this was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. Because the bomb detonated almost directly over the building, it retained its shape after the explosion. Everyone inside the building was killed instantly. 



There was a huge debate in the 1960s on whether or not the building should be torn down. The argument against tearing it down was that by leaving it standing, we're always reminded about the bombings and are less likely to repeat our mistakes of the war. Obviously, that side won, and the Atomic Bomb Dome was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.




I left the park feeling emotionally drained. I found a restaurant for lunch that allowed me to warm up and recharge before heading out for the afternoon. (My lunch involved dunking noodles into a thick, spicy soup. Weird, but I'm not complaining.) Once I ate, I headed out to the Hiroshima Castle.



The castle had to be rebuilt after the bombing, and now it's a museum with a rooftop view. My only complaint here is that all of the signs were in Japanese, so I had absolutely no idea what any of them said. There were a lot of Samurai armor, rugs, and tea settings though, so it was cool to see what the castle might have been like back in the 1500s-1600s. 




When I got back down, I got myself a matcha ice cream cone (chose this one over the sake flavor) and wandered around the castle grounds. There were a lot of areas set up for a culture day, which was cool to explore. I shot a Samurai warrior bow and arrow and actually did pretty well. 😉




 


It was getting chilly, so I decided to go back to the hostel and drop off my camera and grab another layer. Then I went up to the rooftop area next to the A-Bomb Dome for the sunset. I got a glass of wine, bundled up in a blanket (the wind was so cold!), and watched the sun go down beyond the mountains. It truly was one of the best ways I can think of to end my time in Japan. 😢





I got an Okonomiyaki for dinner, which is a savory egg and noodle pancake famous in the Hiroshima region. It was so good! But remember - more on the food I ate later. 🤗



THANK YOU! Major shoutout to you if you made it all the way through these three long posts. I had the best time in Japan and honestly could have shared so much more (I know, I know). 

COMING TOMORROW: Where I stayed in Japan! All of the details on my hostels and my experiences with them.

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