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.