Natalie Goes to Japan

40 year old very married blonde woman having a midlife crisis who heads to Japan alone to follow her dreams. Be careful what you wish for ... you just may get it.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Tears in Hiroshima

I had a 3 day weekend last week and went on a mini-sightseeing tour. I rode the Shinkansen to Hiroshima in 3 hours. I love the Shinkansen. This is what travel should always be like. Big seats, interesting views, and quick boarding. So easy...if a bit expensive. I got to Hiroshima by 11:30, found the travel information booth, and they directed me quickly to my bus and which stop to take. I stayed at the Youth Hostel located in the Astor Plaza. And it is soooo not a hostel. Nice private rooms, with pretty good amenities. And barely more expensive than the other hostel, which is not nearly so convenient. Got settled in expeditiously and was out looking at the memorials in no time. The youth hostel is only 3 blocks South of the Peace Park, so I went there directly, and ate at the Italian restaurant under the Atomic Bomb Museum, right out of the 1970's. Then I was ready to deal with the topic at hand. The atomic bomb memorials. I visited the sculpture of Sadoko, the young girl who developed leukemia and died before she could finish folding 1000 cranes. And the plexiglass rooms adjacent, filled to the gills with paper cranes from children from all over the world. I rang the peace bell. I stopped and stared wistfully at the Flame of Peace. I watched as people laid flowers in front of the cenotaph. I looked for the Pheonix trees, which still have scorch marks, but am not sure if I found them or not. But the place that brought me to tears was the Memorial Mound, with the ashes of tens of thousands of people who were cremated there after the atrocity. And the ashes of any survivors who later died due to after effects. After a short sitdown, watching the river go by I was ready for the Museum. The museum is absurdly cheap, only 50 yen (less than 50 cents). The rental of the audio guided tour system was only 300 yen, and definately worth it. The museum is quite big. I was quite surprised to see the museum language was fairly unbiased, and did not evade Japan's part in the war, or previous wars. They have a wall that was stained with black rain, they have a permanent shadow on stone stairs, and other such artifacts. Very good museum. But of course, the intriguing memorial is what is now called the A-Bomb Dome. A brick building near ground zero, that was left in ruins, but not demolished. It's beautiful, in a way that ruins frequently are. The next morning when I walked by, a giant blue heron was perched on top, and sparrows were flitting around it every where. After all that emotion I went back to the hostel for a break, and read a nice book, and had a nice chat. But then hunger struck, and I walked up to the center of the city. I went to one of the gaigin restaurants, where Halloween was in full swing. After some food, spirits and being entertained by spooks I wandered back, along the pretty river, on a beautiful fall night. Aaaah, this is what it's all about.


At 4:50 PM, Blogger cat-chan the karaoke princess said...

I loved Hiroshima too. :) And yes, like you, I was moved to tears when I was in the museum...


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