Adventures of the 2016 Deaf Sakura Tour: Hiroshima, A Morbid City That is Now Beautiful

Hiroshima is the first city in the world to suffer from a nuclear attack. When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the city became known worldwide.  The destructive power of the bomb was tremendous and destroyed nearly everything within a two-kilometer radius.

After the war, great efforts were taken to rebuild the city.  Destroyed monuments of Hiroshima’s were reconstructed while many other historical buildings were completely gone.  Many new buildings and monuments were built that commemorate people who lost their lives at that time.

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We stand before the A-bomb dome 

The park today is a quiet and spacious place.  On-site is the A-Bomb Dome, that survived the explosion. Only a portion of its structure that crumbled in the blast.  The city decided not to reconstruct it.  Today the Dome is a symbol of peace which most people have at least seen at one time in a picture.  We had a group photo made with the Genbaku/A-bomb Dome in our background.

 

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the hypocenter

We also went to ground zero that was a few minutes away from the dome. There we read on an explanation board with different languages listed that describes the explosion.  It said that the atomic bomb exploded above at 132 degrees 27 minutes 27 seconds at 600m height.  Some of us realized that the bomb never hit the ground.  We silently walked away from ground zero to a bridge and over the Motoyasu River for the Children’s Peace Monument that commemorates

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Children’s Peace Monument

the spirits of children victims of the A-bomb and people from all over the world visit the site to hang or lay down folded-paper crane around the monument. The number of paper crane put down is said to be over 10 million annually.  We said prayers and some of us took pictures of the colorful and lovely paper cranes stored inside  glass shed.  We thought the site with all the paper cranes really colorful.

 

Next, we went to the Memorial Cenotaph to see the monument designed with the Flame of Peace by Tange Kenzo.  The monument is saddle-shaped with a roof. Under the roof is an epitaph: “Rest in Peace, for the error shall not be repeated”.  The flame of peace is seen with the Cenotaph.   The flame is the fire of hope for eternal world peace. It has never burned out since August 1,1964.

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The Memorial Cenotaph with the Flame of Peace and A-bomb dome in the back

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Our traveler, Susan Cherry stands with a Cherry Blossom Tree  and Motoyasu River behind.  

 

By standing on the Peace Boulevard side the Memorial Cenotaph, the Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome can be seen along a straight line. And imagining the contrast between the misery of the A- bomb attack and the beauty of the park. The park has over 300 beautiful cherry blossoms trees that are lined up along the side of the Motoyasu River.  We are moved as we stand there surrounded by beautiful things and remembering the horrible moment.  Hiroshima was our site for full Cherry Blossom trees.  And we have a traveler who shared the same name, Cherry.  We all smiled at the thought of Cherry Trees and Susan Cherry.

Lastly, we entered the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.  The museum exhibits photographs, videos, and models showing the actual history of Hiroshima before and after the bomb attack and victims’ belongings.  A particularly interesting exhibition comes with a story about a Japanese girl survivor, Sasaki Sadako who was two years old when the A-bomb was dropped. She lived within the radius of the explosion and was later diagnosed with leukemia that was caused by nuclear from the A-bomb.  She died at age 12. She is remembered through the story of the one thousand origami cranes she folded before her death. The museum exhibited her cranes and including some very tiny ones that she made. Sadako’s short life has also inspired another sort of legacy: the Children’s Peace Monument. After Sadako’s death, her classmates sought to honor her by building a monument to mourn all the children who died from the atomic bombing.  And with the following support from more than 3,100 schools around the world, a nine-meter high bronze statue, topped with a figure of a girl holding a folded crane was created. The girl is Sadako. 

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An amazing crane origami made by Sasaki Sadako

 

By the time we came out of the museum, some of us were feeling a bit morbid until we started to walk down the lane with the Sakura (cherry blossom) trees in full bloom and Japanese people enjoying their hanami (flower viewing) picnics. We could quickly forgive and forget, knowing that together with Japan we can promote peace and stop nuclear wars. 

And for the rest of the evening, we attended a huge friendship dinner by the Hiroshima Association of the Deaf. There were two other international visitors from Germany who also joined us to the party.  A lot of locals showed up including deaf children who were not shy to meet and talk with every one of us about what we do in the US and our visit to Japan.