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Hiroshima, Japan

Exploring the Peace Garden with our Japanese tour guides


Before we even made it to our hotel from the train station we'd stopped for a cultural experience, sampling Hiroshima's delicacy of okonomiyaki. The train station had quite a few restaurants serving these delicious egg pancakes. I had a plain pork one and Jason had his with oysters. It's basically a filled pancake of beansprouts, bacon and your choice of filling with a fried egg topping and sweet sauce... I loved them.


Our hostel, Hanna Hostel, was perfect; cosy living room, full kitchen, private bedroom, helpful staff and offered us a free guided tour of the peace park. A few of us took them up on their offer of a tour; it gave us a great chance to meet other travellers and we had the perfect guides too.


Three Japanese women, in their 60s/70s, guided us around the park and explained everything there was to know about the area and its history. They said they were doing their tours for free because they wanted to practice their English and keep the memory of Hiroshima alive. They were so cute (unfortunately we forgot to take photographs of them); they came prepared with a folder of information, flicking through it at any opportunity, wanted to ask us questions about our lives (I.e. whether the UK buries or cremates their loved ones) and told us personal anecdotes about what they and their families had experienced. One memory that touched us was how our guides mother went to help at an aid centre after the bomb hit and described the devastation her mother had seen there, she also showed us old family photographs too. They pointed out the different surfaces on the granite remains, the areas not directly exposed were still smooth whereas the roughened areas had been affected by heat radiation. They also a explained about a building, once a bank and now a tourist office, which survived the blast. One man survived inside because he had gone into the cellar to collect some papers...when he returned to the bank floor he found that everyone else had died and that all the surrounding area was in flames. A truly horrific image. We learnt so much having a guided tour with them, we would have missed and not understood a lot about what the park and its surroundings had to offer.


The ruins of the A-Bomb Dome

The government debated what to do with the ruins of this military hall that was destroyed by the atomic bomb and decided to leave it completely as it was in memory. It lines up in contrast to the arch cenotaph and Flame of Peace inside the memorial park. The flame is not an eternal one, but one that will be extinguished when there is no more nuclear weapons on earth...


The cenotaph is enscribed with the names of all of the victims of the bomb, reaching now hundreds of thousands (I can't remember the exact figures). There is also a mound of grass that has remaining ashes of people that were burnt on the day of the bomb. The numbers were so high that they said that one spadeful of ash in the pile was one human life, there was no other way of determining bodies.


There's a beautiful children's peace monument in the park.


When we were there different schools were lining up to pay their respects, singing songs in front of the monument and handing over their handmade paper cranes. Sadako Sasaki was a little girl that got leukaemia from the atomic bomb. She made a thousand paper cranes to symbolise longevity, happiness and peace. Children from around the world send cranes to Hiroshima everyday in her memory.

After our tour we went into the Peace Memorial Museum. Again very interesting, graphic in parts and thought provoking. There were photographs from the day, of people being burnt, clothes in display cabinets with the persons' story attached. Afterwards we both signed their petitions to put an end to nuclear weapons.

We spent the afternoon wandering around Hiroshima, which is now a modern city, grabbed a noodle lunch and visited the newly built castle (of course, the original was destroyed by the atomic bomb). Neal, a fellow backpacker from Canada also joined us, and we're hoping to meet up with him again in the Philippines.


We had a lovely evening back at the hostel; enjoyed drinking whiskey with the other travellers from our tour group, grabbed an evening meal together and ended up planning a couple of days cycling together with Sylvie and Willem (more of them to come in future blogs).

Posted by bloorsontour 19:49 Archived in Japan

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