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Sunday, August 07, 2005

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akijikan

Some good photo examples of how the japanese want to pour concrete over everything.

Karla

About the first photo -- in the foreground is a photo of what the building looked like before the first atomic bomb was dropped, and in the background is the building as it appears today.

The building, built in 1915, was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall, until the first atomic bomb exploded about 600 meters above it on August 6, 1945. The building sits very near the T-shaped bridge linking the narrow river islands that make up central Hiroshima; the bridge was the intended target of the bomb.

The city for about 2 kilometers around was almost completely reduced to ashes by the bomb, and this hall was one of the few remaining structures left standing, although it was reduced to a mere shell of its former structure. The building was left just as it stood, with supportive structure added in the 1960s, to serve as a memorial and visual reminder of the force of the first atomic bomb. It is the most powerful visual that I have ever seen.

Karla

J, yeah, the banner says "Yume." Not the first word I would have chosen to put on that banner, but interesting.

Sarcasmom, I was at Hiroshima on the first anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing, just by coincidence. Staring at the shell of the A-bomb Dome on a day like that was one of the most intense experiences I've ever had. I felt very self-conscious and guilty as an American there, but I found that it was all self-imposed, as I met with absolutely none of the resentment or harsh feelings from local residents that I thought I might. I did read the guest book upon leaving the museum, and saw only a few anti-American writings in there, but I also don't think they were written by Japanese visitors. I was very surprised and impressed by the way people dealt with me there, and I never felt that anyone associated me personally with what happened there 60 years ago. It is another time in history, but being there on the anniversary of the September 11th bombings also made me feel like we haven't really learned much since then either.

Something I did note with interest in the museum: the one and only mention of the bombing of Pearl Harbor was worded something like this: "With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japan was thrust into World War II." Hmmm. Awfully passive language.

But overall, I was very impressed with the museum and the park, I found it very tasteful and respectful, not self-pitying or angry or emotionally manipulative or preachy like it might have been in other hands.

I also think all war proposals from now on should have to be signed on the grounds of the A-bomb Dome. Might help to bring some perspective.

In one part of the museum, the walls were entirely covered with copies of letters sent by every mayor of Hiroshima since the bombings to the leader of every nuclear-using country every time they run a test. I could just imagine those leaders opening the letters with an eye-roll and a mutter.

I also remember hearing that within hours or days of the near-annihilation of the city, local government had the public transportation system and banks up and running, and when they planned the rebuilding of the city, they planned not for a mere replacement of the ruined streets, but for optimistically grand avenues that must have seemed ridiculous at the time, but that the city eventually grew into quite gracefully. Japan will always amaze me.

J.

Great to see an entry again! I am glad to see the site is alive. Your photo's are appropriately timed. Does the yellow banner read yume? It is a bit difficult to read; if so the word is well chosen (yume=dream).

Sarcasmom

I didn't get to Hiroshima on either of my trips to Japan. My children were there when they visited. They all said it was hard to be American and be there, even though it was another time in history.

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