Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

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Visiting The Hiroshima Peace Museum

I have to admit I never really understood the Atomic Bomb Vs The Nuke. I knew they both were somehow associated with radiation but in all honesty I just wasn't interested enough to investigate further. Now that you know that, you can see that I could never quite understand how HIroshima and Nagasaki were still populated.

I know, now that I say that out loud it seems pretty dumb but I would think about it and then before I could ask anyone or research it I would forget it and the cycle continued.

Hiroshima was on my Japan route for various reasons but I have to say primarily it was to see the Atomic Bomb dome and to visit the museum. After doing both National War history museums in Vietnam and Cambodia I was quite nervous I have to admit, but nowhere near nervous enough to not go. So one the train I got, and off to the museum I went.

Info About The Japanese Bombings

This info is from the BBC website and has some frightening statistics.

  • The first atomic bomb was dropped by a United States aircraft on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.
  • US President Harry S Truman, who announced the news from the cruiser USS Augusta in the mid-Atlantic, said the device was more than 2,000 times more powerful than the largest conventional bomb previously used.
  • The Hiroshima bomb, known as “Little Boy”, contained the equivalent of between 12 and 15,000 tons of TNT and devastated an area of 13 square kilometres (five square miles).
  • The bomb was dropped at 08:15 local time from an American B-29 Superfortress, known as Enola Gay.
  • More than 60% of the buildings in the city were destroyed.
  • The bombings brought about an abrupt end to the war in Asia – but critics said Japan had already been on the brink of surrender. The two atomic bombs, with the Soviet declaration of war against Japan on 8 August 1945, finally left the Japanese no choice. Japan surrendered to the Allies on 14 August 1945.

Inside the Museum

The museum has a unique methodology that effectively walks you through the time line of that day and then of course forward until modern day.

As you walk through the museum, its not the physical destruction that hits you, its the devastation to humanity that is incomprehensible. Its impossible to imagine how anyone, could think that killing 140,000 people would be an appropriate response to any enemy action – even in war time. I can't see how the powers that be thought that it would possibly somehow, one day, be accepted. I don't think it has nor do I think it should be.

What strikes me most is that we talk of the horror of 911, as an act of blatant terrorism, but I fail to see how this is remotely different. Sure the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbour – but that was a naval base. It was war time and as much as I cannot condone any of these actions, during war I would assume you have to expect your enemies to target your military installations. That seems like logical thinking to me. What you don't expect however, is that 140,000 people will be killed, in an area that had no military association whatsoever and then three days later, it happens again.

Being treated with exceptional kindness.

I was making my way through the museum with my headset and as usual was not doing well. I just can't cope with these things but respect MUST be paid so I always go. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with Japanese people know how structured their society is and how “proper” they are for want of a better word.

Imagine my surprise when this tiny little elderly Japanese man came up to me and hugged me and started rubbing my back. What a darling and to be honest I really don't think I could have made it through without him. He just followed me, holding my hand, rubbing my arm as I stood with tears streaming down my face. Just supporting me and being there. I was one of the best act of kindness I have ever experienced.

After a while there was much chattering behind me and his wife then gave me the biggest hug and also joined in on our walk through. By the time I got to the end of the museum, their daughter had joined us and she spoke a little English. Her name was Mioko and mum and dad were Hiro and Mia. It turned out that Hiro was a Hiroshima local and had lived through the bombing. He was on a school excursion that day (he was 6 at the time) so they literally left the city around 7am and had nothing left to return to. He lost all his family that day with the exception of an Aunt who Mioko is named for. She was also out of the city that day and took Hiro in and raised him with her children. At 77 this was Hiro's first time at the Museum. He had never been able to bring himself to do it before now, and then the day he did spent most of it comforting some random stranger when he must have been in incredible pain himself.

Mioko invited me to lunch and I eagerly accepted. They took me to this gorgeous little cottage a few blocks from the museum where their son is a chef. He speaks very good English and also took an hour out of the busy lunch rush to sit with us and translate the conversation in to English. At one point the grand children joined us and I found myself sitting with three generations of Hiroshima survivors. It took everything I had not to start balling like a baby again. I left them mid afternoon and was on the train before I realised I hadn't taken a photo of them. I'm still sad to this day that I didn't but then I think about it and love that we were all lost in the conversation and didn't think of stopping for the obligatory group shot.

And no, its not lost on me that this was Hiro from Hiroshima!

I think of Hiro, Mia and their lovely family often and while I will never see them again, they have had a lasting effect on me for sure.

I'm often reminded of this tiny little elderly gentleman who put aside his own pain for an hour and took on some of mine. I'd like to think I've tried to reflect Hiro at times and help to absorb someone else's stress and I often now just randomly tell people they look great, or compliment someone's outfit or hair because I remember how very special that hour was and how incredible it was of Hiro to support me in such an amazing way.

Hiro I salute you!

Are You Visiting Japan Soon?

Consider a JR Rail Pass. Available in 7, 14 or 21 day options, you can save up to 50% on your train tickets. They do have to be ordered prior to your trip and delivered to your home country, however you can activate them on your arrival in Japan starting from a set date so if you are going to be in and around Tokyo for the first 5 days you can set your JR Rail Pass to start on day 5 when you will start traveling.

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