Thursday, June 14, 2012


Although Kyoto has enough temples to keep even an efficient tourist busy for a month, it turns out we're not really temple people.  (Or museum people, which is why there are so many pictures of food on this travel blog.)  So the next day we decided to head to Hiroshima, because we'd heard the memorials there were really worth a visit.  It wasn't a "yipee - vacation!" way to spend the day, but it still felt very worthwhile.

The Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall is an old building very close to the hypocenter of the explosion that partly survived the blast.  Now known as the A-Bomb Dome, it's been preserved as a memorial.  The eerie sight of it,

in real life now surrounded by a vibrant modern city, 

and in photos, standing alone when everything around it was leveled, is very affecting.

The Peace Museum presents a surprisingly neutral and balanced view of events, all things considered.  The photos, descriptions and artifacts of the damage done by the bomb (three types - shock waves, heat/fire, and radiation) are almost impossible to bear.  But the thing that I found most compelling were the historical documents they've assembled, showing the decisions and maneuvering that led up to the dropping of the bomb.  There's a lot they don't teach us in US history, including how much effect the political situation with the Soviets had.  (The bomb was never considered for Germany, only Japan.)  

I was very impressed.  And, after a long day walking through the museum, also impressed that a) I was hungry for lunch, and b) anyone living in that city would serve it to an American, let alone be friendly when I made a mess of trying to eat (really good!) okonomiyaki.  
But there you go - it turns out humanity is resilient and wonderful as well as terrible, and I can only deviate from the topic of food for so long.

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