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Japan

Hiroshima, a nuclear survivor

The A-Bomb Dome

By executive order of President Harry S. Truman, the United States of America dropped the nuclear weapon nicknamed "Little Boy" on the city of Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945. On August 9 the nuclear device "Fat Man" detonated over Nagasaki. This is the only time nuclear weapons, in war, have been detonated. No matter what position you take on the use of these weapons, if you are human, the thought of the devastation from these bombings is horrendous.

From Kyoto, on the amazing Japanese rail system, there is one quick stop in Osaka before you arrive in Hiroshima. The city today is a modern, big, and bustling metropolis. Its contemporary buildings and wide thoroughfares are fine examples of recent city architecture. Built in a beautiful location on the water with several rivers and surrounded by mountains Hiroshima is an attractive city. There is nothing that would indicate the prior destruction of this city by nuclear attack; other than its newness. The only place you can see any sign of the bombing is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The last remaining building standing today, from the nuclear holocaust, is in the park. Its shattered brick and twisted metal girders are a stark contrast to the rest of the park. The Motoyasu River meanders through the green fields of this living memorial to our monstrous human nature.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Video of the Peace Bell

If you are lucky you will meet Mr. Mito Kosei the self-proclaimed Peace Navigator. Kosei is a retired Japanese teacher and blast survivor. He is about five foot and a few inches tall, with brown eyes, a leathery complexion, and is very friendly and enthusiastic. He will tell you proudly that he was in his mother's womb the day of the blast. She was fortunately far enough away from the epicenter to have survived the instantaneous vaporization, which was the fate of thousands that day. She did eventually develop blood cancer, but made it into her nineties. His father, while teaching school, was much closer to the blast, but was fortunate to be in a basement at the time of the detonation. He also developed radiation related illnesses and died in old age. His uncle was less fortunate, he did survive the initial blast, but died shortly after from radiation sickness.

Kosei has guided more than 8,000 tourists to various sites around the park, not in tour books. His objective is to ensure visitors understand the consequences of using nuclear weapons. For example: the Motoyasu River ran for a month, after the blast, with dead bodies and cremation funeral pyres burnt for days after the explosion.

He leaves visitors with three things to take away from this experience. They are: Never to use weapons like this ever again, to know and to celebrate how resilient humans are, and to be able to understand the power of forgiveness.

A round-trip flight from San Francisco to Tokyo ranges between: $762 to $4,187.

A 21-day Japan Rail Pass ranges between: $850.92 (79,600 YEN) and $616.81 (57,700 YEN).

A terrific web site to book accommodation in Japan is http://www.japanhotel.net.

This conculdeds our trip around Japan.


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