We woke up early in the morning to check-out and go to the station. Our train to Hiroshima would depart at 06h15 and even though we hadn’t had a lot of sleep the night before (we had to explore the nightlife too!) we were very excited to depart! And this excitement helped us to get up and get things moving. Also, the train would take 5h to arrive at the destination, so we knew we could catch up on some sleep during the trip.
It was pouring rain the entire trip, but I stayed positive that it would be beautiful again the moment we stepped off the train. Unfortunately, the rain was still falling hard when we arrived, which left me quite frustrated. I had 2 days in town and activities scheduled. Rain was not in the plan. But, there was nothing I could do about that. I accepted my fate and determined to continue enjoying my trip (actually I didn’t accept my fate, and in fact I didn’t even take pictures of it, so I could pretend it never happened).
I jumped in a cab to the hotel and, well, here’s a hint for anyone going to Japan: do NOT touch the cab’s door. The doors open and close automatically for the passenger, so no need to touch the handle. If the taxi does not have an automatic door, the driver sees it as his duty to open the door of his car to his passenger. As I said in a previous post, it’s not likely that the cab driver will be rude to you for this, but he will leave it clear that opening his car was inappropriate. (Also: they wear uniforms and even a cap!).
We left the bags in our room and when upon arriving back at reception, were very surprised to see through the window that, like magic, the sky had cleared out and the sun was shining! We got some directions and a map from the receptionist and headed the Hiroshima Castle:
Look at that sky! It’s difficult to believe it was raining 20 minutes before this picture, right?
Ok, so we got in the castle. As you may assume, this was not the original one. The original was built in the 1590s but destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945.This replica has stood in the same spot as the original since 1958. Even though the outside is copy of the original castle, the inside is a museum, with remains from the feudal and post-feudal times.
Leaving the castle, we walked toward ground zero of the a-bomb and wandered around the Shukkei-en – a park just a few metres from where the bomb detonated. Here I had some mixed feelings. The park was so peaceful and serene, as it should have been on the morning of August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am, but suddenly, at 8:16 horror was spread. This site certainly leaves one vulnerable to thoughts of the fragility of life as we know it. Anyway, I won’t disturb you with the dark thoughts I had during this walk. Instead, I will show you the bright side of it. The beautiful Japanese garden (that in Japan is called only “garden”).
We ate quickly in a restaurant nearby and headed the A-Bomb dome.
The Genbaku D?mu (A-bomb dome) was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. And the ruins were kept as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly, and another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.
Because the explosion was almost directly overhead, the building was able to retain its shape. The building’s vertical columns were able to resist the nearly vertical downward force of the blast, and parts of the concrete and brick outer walls remained intact. Everyone inside the building was killed instantly.
Two things in the surroundings of the A-Bomb dome got my attention. The first one is the Peace Clock.
Credits for this photo to Amanda Elsewhere
As you can see it marks the number of days since the first dropping of an A-bomb and the number of days since the last nuclear test.
The other thing that caught my attention was this sign in front of a bank building:
Since most bank facilities were wiped out, 2 days after the explosion, limited bank services were resumed in this branch.
Today’s tour gave a lot of food for thought, and I’m sure the digestion won’t be easy.