Friday, August 06, 2010

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: A-Bomb Dome

We went to quite a few spots on our recent holiday, and I took a crapload of pictures. It would probably take me a couple of weeks to write about and post all the pics I'd like to, but I've decided against doing any kind of running, blow-by-blow kind of travelogue. Instead, I'm just going to jump around and post stuff as I feel like posting it--pretty much randomly. When I'm finished with everything, anyone who wants to put the pieces together can just click the tags at the end of individual posts. This also lets me post about other stuff as it happens along.

On Monday of this week we visited the Peace Memorial Park in the city of Hiroshima. It was my second time there, and I've also visited a similar memorial in Nagasaki a couple of times. (I assume that I don't have to explain the significance of these places to anyone, especially today.) Visually, there's a real contrast in these two cities. Hiroshima has a real "modern" look to it (I don't mean that as some kind of sly joke BTW), while I imagine Nagasaki doesn't look so different than it did 65 years ago. And, although this is nothing more than a personal impression, the cities, their people, and how they've dealt (and continue to deal with) the singular events that took place at the end of WWII have a character of their own. Nagasaki strikes me as a much more easy-going place that seems to have come to terms with the past--at least as well as could be expected of a place that was destroyed by a nuclear bomb, and still has people there who remember it. Hiroshima on the other hand still seems still to be grappling with the past. It has adopted a somewhat political anti-nuclear stance and has made the eradication of nuclear weapons its mission. Again, these are just the impressions of an outsider who has spent a bit of time in both places.

I'm not personally very big on dwelling much on the past. What's done is done, time to move on, blah, blah, blah. That's my regular schtick. I do think, though, that there are devastating events that need to be "remembered". Back in Canada, every November when Remembrance Day rolled around, there were always people whining about the "old farts" putting on their old uniforms and medals and telling their old war stories and making a big deal out of the past. But anyone who's ever sat down and spent a few hours with one (or more) of these "old farts" and listened to some of their stories soon realizes one thing: these guys don't "remember" these events; they can't forget them. Listening to some guy tell you about how, when he was 18, he was pushed out of an airplane in the black of night, with bombs exploding around him, bullets winging past him, his friends screaming, while he's heading down towards fuck knows what kind of even worse horror--listening to this you begin to get the picture. I can only speak for myself, but this kind of "remembering" has a lot more impact than some prick in a suit on the TV telling me that "war is bad." No fucking shit.

So, we're at the park commemorating the first-fucking-time-in-history-ever dropping of a nuclear bomb on people. It has my attention. There are several monuments in the park, and I'll be posting some pics of a few. The one below is of the "A-Bomb Dome." This structure was almost directly under the hypo-center of the bomb when it exploded. It was one of the few structures in the entire city that wasn't completely obliterated. There's also a fairly large museum attached to the park. It's got pictures of stuff that was blown up, it's got actual stuff that was blown up, it's got stuff that people were wearing when they were blown up... I probably could have taken a few pictures if I'd wanted. I didn't want to. There are also a lot of written recollections of people who actually lived through the blast. They all remember exactly what they were doing when hell rained down on the earth. Like the boy who was about to trap a butterfly in his net when suddenly there was a flash... All the rock concerts with all the great bands in the world proclaiming "no nukes" are nothing more than (possibly great) rock concerts. One person listening to one person "remembering" what he can't forget...


  1. Hi Rick, You certainly have a way with words. I appreciate learning about this. thanks, sp

  2. Thanks, Glenn.
    And thanks Susanna.

  3. As far as "let's move on" mentality goes, I'm right with you on that one: part of my beef with living in New Orleans and I belief why things there tend not to improve. There's a whole political agenda behind that one though, so perhaps some of that plays into the Hiroshima? I don't know.

    I do feel that the U.S. needs to come to terms with the dropping of the bomb as an atrocity, much like the history of the slave trade in the U.S., so that it can move on. We don't want to look at it. Kind of like if the Germans insisted that the Holocaust was just something they had to do because it was war time.

    I can't stand those benefit rock concerts - anytime celebrities get involved and multi-$ it's pretty much bullshit....

    Good post - like the way you shoot from the hip....

  4. Hi Marc,
    Thanks for coming by and commenting.
    To be honest, I'm not sure that Hiroshima and Nagasaki qualify as "atrocities"--in the sense of being "war crimes" (the results were certainly atrocious, though). I'm aware of most of the arguments for and against this view.
    The fact that this new technology came to fruition during a time of war lends the situation an air of inevitability to my mind. And yeah, I realize that's a somewhat pessimistic outlook!
    Anyway, hope to see you back this way!