Sunday, December 31, 2017

Hiroshima: City Once Dead, Now Alive

I developed a genuine dislike for History subject when I was in 8th grade. It made me fall asleep. Then it made me feel horrible about myself for not having any interest about those great warriors who sacrificed too much for building our nation. I had nothing against my subject teacher because the subject itself was boring. But now I understand that look on his face, “ahh such a pity child. Might be dealing with a tough home situation or possibly poor nutrition.” It might have been painful for him to deal with someone who sleeps the entire class and scores terrible grades. You could probably fathom out the feeling if you’re a teacher.
I might be exaggerating a little but this was what happened. History was taught by school Principal, who was always buried in a blanket of responsibility. He would be gone most of the time with official works and couldn’t keep up with the scheduled syllabus. Then it would lead to countless weekend classes just before the exam. He would merge 3 classes together out on basketball court on a chilly Sunday mornings and would read out the History textbook. There was no charm in freezing your butt off from the concrete floor underneath while listening to some boring lecture. Since then I lost track of my passion for history and I couldn’t recover from it. My relationship with History almost came to nonexistence by the time I finished Junior High. It became a subject that I memorized just for exam and not enjoy at all.
A-Bomb Dome then and now

In the midst of this torturous journey with History, if there’s one thing I remember learning, it’s the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about atom bomb and WWII. I am very proud of myself for this.
I just hate the history, you know, study, exam that kind of stuff. Visiting historical monuments and museums, I enjoy. I am so glad I had the opportunity to visit Hiroshima last spring. Hiroshima is not too far from the place I reside. But what’s far in Japan anyways? Japan has an efficient and convenient public transportation network that cut short your traveling time. Heard about Bullet Train? Known as Shinkansen in Japan, it can travel around 300KM/Hour. According to report in 2012, the average delay of this train from schedule was 36 seconds. Real badass! 
In particular, I visited Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. The Park is situated in the heart of Hiroshima city. The area around is kept so well that would put you to wonder if something too horrible, too evil had happened here. But the truth is it did. Some 7 decades ago, the whole city was completely ruined. Enjoying the beautiful landscape, watching the street performer by the river side making audiences go “Wooow!” The place is just surreal. As you enter the park, there’s an inscription on the stone block that reads “LET ALL THE SOULS HERE REST IN PEACE FOR WE SHALL NOT REPEAT THE EVIL.” Walking through the park then a sadness does set in, a feeling that is hard to describe. The park contains many prominent monuments dedicated to all the victims affected by nuclear attack (directly or indirectly).

Coming back to my History class again, remembering the dates was a real nightmare. I have absolutely hated this part. So as I know now dates are absolutely vital for any understanding of history. In marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, every year Peace Memorial Ceremony is held at the park at 8:15 AM on August 6, to mourn the souls killed by the atomic bomb and to pray for lasting peace in the world. It was the day the city of Hiroshima felt victim to the world’s first atomic bombing back in 1945. That day, as I’ve read it was a bright, beautiful morning and the residents of Hiroshima were getting ready for a new day when suddenly a huge thunderclap and a flash of lightning blew up everything. The entire city was devastated by the magnitude of heat produced. Approximately 140,000 people were estimated to have died by the end of 1945. However, the exact number of deaths remain unknown. Many victims were never identified and many fell victims to the aftereffects decades after the explosion. As a legacy of this horrific tragedy and in memories of those victims, the Peace Memorial Park is built at the exact location where bomb exploded.

The most prominent figure seen there is A-Bomb Dome, the remaining structure of which was previously Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It is one of the surviving structures left behind by the nuclear attack. It was the commercial heart of the Hiroshima city before the bomb blast. Today, it stand as a symbol of survival and peace.
Children's Peace Monument
Across the river, on the other side of the park is Children’s Peace Monument. This monument was inspired by a true story of Sasaki Sadako, who lost her life to leukemia at the age of 12 as a result of radiation. This monument of a bronze girl standing holding a gold crane is built in memory of Sadako and all other children who lost their lives in the bombing. The inscription underneath the monument reads, “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world.”

The Hall of Remembrance- oh! I really can’t describe the feeling evoked being in the hall. As the name suggests, it’s the hall where one can remember and mourn the lives lost in the atomic bombing. As you enter the hall, you go back in time to that moment with every detail buildup of war, the bombing and its aftereffects on the walls. Photos of the victims are displayed. The visitors can also search for the information of individual victims by their names. To keep the survivors’ tales alive the videos of the personal accounts of the atomic bombing are also available. Man, it was a lot to take in.
There was one thing that really caught my attention and touched me in there. To certain extent Japanese take responsibility for the bombing due to their “mistaken national policy.” Following the WWII, Japan became an advocator for the world peace. Japan now only maintains self-defense forces, not the armed forces with war potential. It means Japan cannot attack other countries but can defend in case they are attacked. It is mandated in their constitution.

The Hall of Rememberance
According to the pamphlet of the sight-seeing guide map, the park contains around 59 cenotaphs in memory of the tragedy of 1945. Well, I’m definitely not going to go down the whole of history here. Everything you want to know is just a mouse-click away. However, it gives you a deeper understanding  and  stronger feeling of appreciation for peace when you see it in real than reading about it on internet.
The damages done on the city and its people is beyond imagination. Even reading about it I can’t help feeling helpless. To the people visiting the park is a reminder of the great tragedy and at the same time gives lesson to the future generations to never repeat the mistake again. Many inscriptions underneath those monuments reemphasize and demand the abolition of nuclear weapons. All they seek is peace, never a war again. Do you know who got the Nobel Peace Prize this year? Me neither! So I googled it. Simple, right? It was awarded to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in their effort to abolish the use of nuclear weapons. So bright future ahead, huh!This reconnization is a proof that people continue to seek the realization of a woeld free of nuclear weapons.

The Hiroshima city, like a phoenix, has emerged from the ashes of disaster. It has made an impressive recovery, however, there is definitely something in there that makes you feel sad all over again. There is this gloomy reminder of what happened in 1945 that cuts you deep. The city has transformed into a peaceful city now. Without question the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima is one of the must visit places in Japan.

Did you make it through the end?? Hope I didn’t make you fall asleep the half way through. Haha!

No comments:

Post a Comment