Today I woke up at 7:30 which was a nice change of pace. We all met up in the lobby to have breakfast together. Afterwards, we left our bags at the hotel and went to Hiroshima by Shinkansen train. Hot hot hot! It was extremely sunny as we arrived near noon. We first went to a volunteer tour kiosque and met a pair of nice ladies (one who talked about the city and a student who translated in English. Both were really nice and interesting.
Next we went past a number of memorials for the Hiroshima incident. First was the Children’s peace monument. There is a very touching story behind it. Sadako Sasaki was two-years-old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, close to her home. Sadako survived the explosion but over the course of the next ten years, Sadako developed leukemia. Many other children who were exposed to radiation from the atomic bombs developed leukemia as well. While hospitalized, Sadako began to make origami cranes. Ancient Japanese legend holds that anyone who folds one thousand paper cranes (senbazuru) will be granted a wish. Inspired by the Senbazuru legend, Sadako set out to fold one thousand cranes. She continued faithfully and persistently to create these symbolic birds until she died at the age of 12. Her friends continued to make paper cranes after her death and the monument was created shortly after that. There is a chime below it you can ring to wish for peace. We all rang the bell and carried on walking around.
Our next stop was the Peace Bell. The bell was constructed so that whoever wished for peace could ring it. On the bell is a map of the world yet without any borders; this represents a world without conflict that we should strive to attain. Also, on the gong is the nuclear symbol and so when we ring the bell, we are stiking it and this destroying it. The bell itself is held a roof representing the universe which is itself held by four pillars which represent the 4 pains in life : birth, ageing, sickness and death. By striking the bell, we are releasing ourselves of these pains and obtaining peace of mind. Around the bell is a lotus pond. The flowers bloom every year around the Memorial Day so we could see the flowers.
We then parted with the group and went in the museum. The museum was an eye opener. I felt so sad and emotional walking through it (I mean who wouldn’t…) and it made me realise how much tragedy and destruction the atomic bomb can bring to a whole city! It should never ever be used offensively for any reason whatsoever! And so at the end of the museum, I signed the petition o stop the use and possession of nuclear weapons (I kinda also signed for my sister and parents.. Hope they don’t mind!!!). Anyway it was really enlightening and horrific (especially the clay models of the ragged children running through burning rubble with their skin peeling off… We left solemnly and went to eat at a nearby department store to eat. We then missed the first bullet train but took the next one an hour later. We arrived back in Kurashiki And left straight away to go to Matsue. Tomorrow we will meet another orphan called Waka and her grandmother. (q-q)/