For some strange reason, I did not expect the hustle and bustle of a larger Japanese city when I exited the railway station. Hiroshima for the postwar generation is equal to total destruction, to death, to the absurd horror of war. Not a collection of (new) houses, industry, flats, and roads filled with traffic. Nevertheless, this was the first impression of the city. I headed straight to Peace Memorial Park, the place where on August 6, 1945 the first ever atomic bomb was dropped which would end World War II in the Pacific. As soon as you enter the Park, you see the A-bomb Dome, the leftovers of a building close to where the bomb dropped and effectively melted away humans, buildings and almost everything else in its neighbourhood in temperatures of several thousands degrees.
Apart from the Dome, the Park contains several spots to remember that fateful day for humanity. There are the typical Japanese ornaments, and the Cenotaph which is the official grave of around 200,000 people who were killed - it contains all their names. But the most memorable and chilling experience I found in the museum.
It seems to be a rational account of what happened, with facts and figures, all perfectly displayed as could be expected in a Japanese museum. Then, in some displays, you can see the actual effects of the blast in touchable evidence. A children's bicycle, almost completely melted - what happened to the child? A watch - giving the exact hour of the blast because it stopped running there and then. A stone doorstep, on which you can see the shadow of a man waiting for the bank to which the doorstep belonged, to be opened. That's right, the man literally evaporated in the intense heat, and the extreme light left his shadow on the stone. When you step out of the museum, even in the height of summer it takes time for your chicken skin to disappear.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Peace Memorial Park (Japan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Peace Memorial Park.
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