On the day of the summer solstice, Tuesday, June 21, 2005, during the year of the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, we visited Japan. Our older son was attending the Yamasa Institute, an intensive Japanese language program in Okazaki (he eventually went on to live in Tokyo while attending the International Christian University), and we wanted to see him and this country that had so inspired him.
With our then 14 year old son we took off for a two week summer adventure. We traveled to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Jimeji, before meeting our then 21 year old in Kyoto and continuing on with him to Nara, Ise and Toba, then saying goodbye as he headed back to Okazaki and we returned to Tokyo.
My memories of Hiroshima have remained strong, in part because of what the place represents, and in part because of our younger son’s reaction to the Hiroshima Peace Park, an emotionally intense place to visit. Here is what I wrote in my journal that evening, after our visit to the park.
I am glad that Nancy loaned us Hiroshima to read (by John Hersey) because it put voices and stories to what we saw. The best way for me to describe this place is to look at the pictures [though I am not going to share the personal ones] and to think of Robin. There is a mound covering a burial of 10,000 remains of unknown people from the Hiroshima A-bomb disaster. Standing there brought Robin to tears. So why are we at war in Iraq? What don’t the “grown ups” in our government understand that a 14 and a half year old knows? We walked around a bit more but between the heat and the emotion it was clear we should skip the museum and head back to our hotel.
The “A-Bomb Dome” – you can read more about this building in item 38 of the virtual Guided Tour.
Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students – #42
Many of the oragami Peace Cranes are displayed in protective cases.
Children’s Peace Monument – item #16 in the Virtual Tour
While the photos may be colorful, the feeling we had while visiting was somber. And this year, in 2010, the 65th Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, the commemoration ceremony included first time participation by the United States Ambassador to Japan and the United Nations Secretary General.