From the Archives of 2005—4
July 19, 2020
When I went to Japan in 2005, we visited Hiroshima. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I remember feeling uneasy during the ride there. I really didn’t want to go. It turned out to be a moving experience I’ll always remember. I’m posting only two photographs from Hiroshima because you can find many online. On another part of the trip our group saw the Aso volcano, site of a geothermal power station.
1 Thousands of origami cranes hang near one of the sculptures in the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park. A plaque near the park entrance was my first indication that the park was to be a particularly memorable experience. This is what the plaque says:
Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace
(Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims)
Erected 6 August 1952
This monument was erected in the hope that Hiroshima, devastated by the world’s first atomic bomb on 6 August 1945, would be rebuilt as a city of peace.
The epitaph reads, “Let all the souls here rest in peace; For we shall not repeat the evil.” It summons people everywhere to pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased A-bomb victims and to join in the pledge never to repeat the evil of war. It thus expresses the “Heart of Hiroshima” which, enduring past grief and overcoming hatred, yearns for the realization of true world peace with the coexistence and prosperity of all humankind.
This monument is also called the “A-bomb Cenotaph,” for the stone chest in the center contains the register of deceased A-bomb victims.
In putting together this post, I learned that the plaque is controversial. This is from a Japanese travel site:
The carefully-worded Japanese message inscribed on the cenotaph says: 安らかに眠って下さい 過ちは 繰返しませぬから. In English this translates to, “Please rest in peace, for [we/they] shall not repeat the error.” The “we/they” discrepancy is a result of an intentional turn of phrase. The sentence, written in formal Japanese, does not include a subject, leaving it open to interpretation as to whose error is being mentioned. However, right-wing political activists have taken exception to this possibility, and strongly objected to it possibly admitting Japanese guilt. In 2005, the cenotaph was vandalized by someone for this very reason.
While the decisions of all the related governments will likely be discussed and debated for generations, the Memorial Cenotaph will continue to remind us that the loss of any life is a tragedy for us all, and the loss of so many lives should be remembered forever.
While we were in Japan we felt no blame, even when we met with a woman who had survived the attack. The emphasis was always on peace.
2 This was the morning view out our hotel window in Hiroshima.
3 Our travel to the volcano wound through mountains that fascinated this flatlander.
8 And, finally, the volcano
9 We visited a sake brewery; that may be where I took this photograph.
10 A building and the reflection of a person somewhere in Tokyo—or Kyoto. I regret not identifying the locations of many of my photographs while I still could.
11 Even in 2005 we saw many Japanese, mostly young people, glued to their cell phones, but we also saw people reading paper books on the subway and elsewhere.
12 View from a subway platform in Tokyo—or Kyoto
13 Nightscape from our hotel room window
14 A construction fence with reflections
15 We visited a fish farm . . .
16 . . . and some pipes.
July 19, 2020 at 3:32 AM
It certainly was. Thanks for looking at some of the evidence, Harrie.
July 19, 2020 at 10:29 AM
Linda, I really like the origami and fish farm photos. Those all make me nostalgic for travel and exploring new places. We first went to Japan in 1985 and I didn’t like it because it was so clearly sexist with few opportunities for women. Marvin then went dozens of times because of a scientific project he had with the Japanese. The next time I went was 2015 and we lived in an apartment in Uji, just outside of Kyoto, in faculty housing for a month. Life had really changed in 30 years and I really liked it. Being a resident instead of a tourist was an interesting experience. M had a conference in 2016, so I went again for a week or so. I haven’t been back since but would like to see the northern parts of Japan. Not being able to travel is pretty depressing. My next excitement is Aug. 11 when we brave danger to get up to Massachusetts. Not really a fun trip but so good to leave FL. The number of dead in Hiroshima is almost the same as the US coronavirus toll so far. He does deserve to lose the presidency over that.
July 19, 2020 at 7:20 AM
I noticed the same thing about the numbers of dead, Lynda. None of it ever should have happened. Not being able to travel must be especially difficult for you because of the importance that travel has had in your life. I hope you will be able to do that again soon.
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July 19, 2020 at 10:30 AM
Regarding the message on the cenotaph, it’s difficult to have a conflict with only one party.
July 19, 2020 at 12:23 PM
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July 19, 2020 at 7:26 PM
The picture of the origami cranes is quite a colorful and effective abstraction of the “more is more” kind. And how about all those pipes in #16? Before I read the caption to #15, I thought I was looking as a bunch of nails spilled on the ground. In the Philippines last December I saw urban clutter of the type you portrayed in #12; you did well in catching the woman walking into the scene at the lower right. In #17 I’d have wished for the airplane window to be lower so I could have had a clear shot of the sunset-lit clouds beneath the plane’s wing.
All those pictures are so different from the ones of nature you included. I like the regions of different colors in #5.
What you said about vandalizing a monument in Japan in 2005 was a minuscule prelude to the United States in 2020.
July 19, 2020 at 12:27 PM
Thank you for thinking so long and hard about this post, Steve. I appreciate your comments. I was really happy about that woman walking into the scene. Sometimes you’re lucky.
July 19, 2020 at 7:26 PM
I read your photographs with many profound pleasures: I visited Hiroshima over 3 different trips. My initial trip had to do with our social studies taken in my Junior High 3 (9th Grade) We studied, among others, the Movie-“The Beginning or the End”. We learned the power of A Bomb by the shadow of the man left on the building’s stone section. Once we were there, we formed the circle for our prayers. Of course the word ‘ayamachi’ is ambiguous. WWII did not occurr so unexpectedly as popularly known. In my own family circle I knew quite a few who came back by the ‘kokansen’ (exchange boat). People who were cognizant of what was going on, the war was eminent and interrupted their work and came back to Japan.
The second trip was personally organized and the third trip had to do with accompanying a canadian YWCA group. I’ll never forget how one’s reaction can be so different. There was this woman who was visibly teary. Thinking she must have been very much moved, I gently inquired. Her response was totally opposite of what I thought. She was very resentful of the city maintaining the memories so well. I didn’t know what to say.
Thank you, Linda, for your taking time to share,
July 19, 2020 at 1:08 PM
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories, Michi. I’m glad I have never met the resentful woman in your third trip. I would not know what to say either. It’s hard to imagine someone so insensitive.
July 19, 2020 at 7:32 PM
Thanks for showing these, Linda. Brought back many memories of an inspiring place. Diana
July 19, 2020 at 1:56 PM
You’re welcome, Diana. Looking at my own photos did that for me, too.
July 19, 2020 at 7:34 PM
Thank you, Linda. These are lovely. I have not been to Japan so particularly enjoyed them, especially the information about the peace Cenotaph. Sandi
July 19, 2020 at 2:38 PM
If you ever do go to Japan, Sandi, you must go to the peace memorial at Hiroshima. I didn’t mention the museum on the grounds, which was as moving as it was informative.
July 19, 2020 at 7:39 PM
Difficult to pick a favorite but #10 and #14 are really sticking with me. I keep going back to them. Your framing on each shot is so well done in this group, Linda. Nice work.
July 19, 2020 at 5:08 PM
Thank you, Ken. I’m especially glad you picked out #10. I so seldom include people or their reflections and am always happy when I pull it off.
July 19, 2020 at 7:41 PM
Good pictures, Linda, especially 1 and 13; and 8 because I’m a geologist and seeing an active volcano is always good!; and 17 too, which is very strong and striking. And Hiroshima speaks of the futility of war, for example, now, Japan is a friend of the USA, and Germany a friend of the UK etc etc etc. And yes, the covid crisis has exposed just how inept Trump is – the sole thing that he cares about is money, and now Americans are dying in their thousands because of his love of money and his over early opening up of the economy.
July 20, 2020 at 6:47 AM
Thank you, Adrian. I was able to photograph the caldera when I got closer and the water vapor cleared for a few seconds, but the photo has no artistic quality to it, so I didn’t post it. Still, it’s a nice memory-jogger. I have to agree about the futility of war and ineptitude of the US president. It’s frightening that more than 40 percent of the people in this country approve of him.
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July 21, 2020 at 9:23 AM
Your narrative about Hiroshima is well put and moving. Would that peace were possible!
That is such a beautifully done photograph of all the origami cranes! #5 is attractive to me – the soft mounded mountain, the colors, the way the land changes from forest to grasses, the light snow. The broom detail is great, well-composed. After decades of riding NYC subways, it’s fun to see #11 – it looks very much like what I remember. Not the view from the platform though! The reflections and fish farm are good together! 😉 Then the pipes carry on the swirly-curvy theme. Perfect ending shot, too!
July 21, 2020 at 5:13 PM