A Rollercoaster of Emotions (Day 208)
Hiroshima is a place where there is a Rollercoaster of emotions and we certainly experienced that today!
We haven’t had much down time for quite some time and travelling for so long, we find it important to add these into our schedule, well that’s if we had one! So today was mainly spent catching up on washing, admin and some planning. I’ve started to explore our next country – South Korea and we’ve booked the rest of our accommodation for Japan. Two more Airbnb, which is lucky as the Japanese Government is clamping down; all host need to have a licence number and this needs to be displayed by 15th June to remain active. Thousands of reservations have had to be cancelled.
Being with Jan and Simon for a few days and our time in New Zealand, we decided to hire a Campervan for when we arrive on the island of Yakushima, that’s all booked now – tick, as are the details of the ferry – which we can’t book until we’re at the port (The website is in Japanese with no English translation). I realise how much more challenging it must be for other travellers who don’t speak English – as the Italians we met the other day said, it is our luck and also our downfall as we find it difficult (or lazy) to learn other languages. Their two-year-old is starting to speak not only his mother tongue but also English and French.
In the afternoon we went and visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, a different one to yesterday and I found this even more upsetting. I could have sat down and wept. I didn’t, there were many Japanese people around and they seemed so stoic.
First, we read about how the A-bombs were developed, tested and the immediate result of the detonation; intense heat, shock waves and radiation. Also, how America studied the topography of Japan to decide which cities to drop the bombs over to cause the most destruction. Remember that a second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki, killing at least 74,000 people just three days later. (Japan unconditionally surrendered 5 days after).
We learned about the recent history of Hiroshima, how this city recovered from being totally destroyed to a city thriving with a vision to create a peaceful world. For me, the most harrowing and touching was the special exhibition where people have donated their personal family possessions from that fateful day. Belongs of three students who were killed; a cap and belt, a uniform that was shredded by the intense heat and some gaiters. A tiny metal tricycle that a three-year-old was playing on and he died later that day. His father buried him and his beloved tricycle in the family grounds, and many years later, dug him up to be cremated and donated the tricycle to the museum.
One well-known story is of a little girl Sadako who was two when the atomic bomb was dropped. She was 2km away and was lucky not to get injured. However ten years later it was discovered that she had leukaemia (known here as the “A-bomb disease”). Whilst in hospital, her best friend came to visit and brought some paper. She explained that if a sick person folds 1,000 paper cranes, then the person would get well. And little Sadako did just that, each day folding more cranes. Even when the disease progressed and she was in great pain, she continued folding the paper, but sadly she died, having folded a total of 644 paper cranes.
Her classmates decided to form a paper crane club to honour her and almost three years after she had died, this club had collected enough money to build the Children’s Peace Monument (which we visited yesterday) with the help from 3,100 other schools in 9 countries. (In the Peace Park there are a number of places where strings of colourful paper cranes have been hung together)
When Barack Obama visited the Museum in May 2016, he made 2 paper cranes and put these besides a message he wrote to abolish nuclear weapons. I found this very touching and feel deeply saddened by the political situation in America today, especially reading about the G7 summit.
We returned home and in the evening needed something to lighten our mood. We watched Jumanji – Welcome to the Jungle. Very funny, especially Jack Black, who plays a rather flirtatious teenage girl inside the body of an overweight middle-aged male professor. If you want some fun, lighthearted, family entertainment, we recommend it.