Last night we decided to use today to see all the memorial sites and museums and then see how we felt, and decide what we want to do afterwards.
We first visited the famous A-dome, just 5 minutes walk from our hostel. The Dome was what I had seen on TV. but the surrounding area was not what I was expecting. Next to the dome is a beautiful, clear river along with beautiful plants and the atmosphere was extremely peaceful not somber at all.
Next to the dome was a Hiroshima peace volunteer, we saw them throughout the day. She had created folders filled with information in many languages which explained what happened when the atomic bomb hit and the aftermath. The information is free to read so we sat down among about 20 other travelers to read all about it. The information was extremely detailed and built further on our knowledge of the atrocity. We then spoke to the woman who provided the information, she was born 3 days after the bombing and her grandfather was killed in the attack. Despite all I’ve read about it, it’s still hard to comprehend that this all happened just one generation ago in some cases. But talking to the woman and seeing the Dome helped both Juna and I to have a better understanding of the effects of such a horrendous weapon.
Next we decided to walk through the memorial park to visit the museum at the end. Before we went into the exhibit I popped in to use the museum toilet. Wow. As I walked down through the centre of the empty restroom, with cubicles either side, each toilet seat rose up as I walked past. I felt like I was some kind of cult leader in an alternative universe. Then when you sit down it plays you the sound of the rainforest. I know it’s not the main attraction in Hiroshima but it provided some light-relief on a hard hitting day.
The underbelly of the museum
The museum itself was as the guide book describes ‘ Confronting and personal. While upsetting it’s a must see in Hiroshima’. And it was all those things; horrendous photos, personal items of those who lost their lives and videos on the science behind the bomb. But it really is a must see, even after holding back the tears Juna agreed. Even though it’s incredibly moving, with many visitors wiping their away tears as they went along it wasn’t over-the-top and was incredibly informative.
About a hundred metres away from the museum is the Peace Memorial Hall. After you enter for free you take a winding path underground into the round hall of remembrance. The top half of the hall is a mosaic made up of 140,000 tiles, each one representing a victim of the atomic bomb attack. The hall was incredibly calm with seats allowing us to sit down and reflect and contemplate what we’d seen.
In the adjoining room was photographs and names of all those who lost their lives. For me this was when the sheer size of the devastation really hit home.
After the hall we headed to the nearby Museum of Art. It was an odd building, not very well advertised but obviously very wellknown as there were a lot of people inside. It was relatively expensive to get in but after visiting all the memorial sites we both wanted something a bit ‘lighter’.
The museum included some big names including Monet and Van Gogh. But the part I enjoyed most was the temporary exhibition showing the work of Machiko Hasegawa. A female comic strip artist who broke into the comic scene at just 15. The sheer volume of work she created year after year was inspiring. She was famed for her wit and humour, and even though in Japanese the comics were hilarious and extremely witty. You could see her drawing styles change over the years but her humour stayed the same, well if anything, got (c)ruder as she got older!
After the museum, grabbing some dinner and my phone app informing me we’ve walked 20km today we headed back to the hostel absolutely knackered. On the way we stopped at one of Japan’s millions of vending machines to get water but we had a shock, this vending machine was selling pickled fish in bottles! Luckily we weren’t too thirsty and could wait till the next vending machine.
Although hard-hitting, today has been enjoyable and the museum is a must do if you are in Hiroshima. I look forward to seeing more of the city tomorrow.