We arrived in Hiroshima from Osaka late on Sunday afternoon. First impressions – what a fantastic city! Like all the cities we have visited so far, Hiroshima is amazingly neat, tidy and clean.
Monday morning we visited Peace Memorial Park. The A-Bomb Dome can be seen as you leave the tram. The building was constructed in 1915 and was used as a base for promoting the sale of goods produced in the area. It was used for this purpose until 1944 when it was taken over by another agency. This was one of the few buildings in Hiroshima that wasn’t totally flattened by the Atomic Bomb that was dropped from the “Enola Gay” on that fateful morning. Almost all buildings within a 2 kilometre radius from the hypocentre were totally crushed and burned. The bomb was designed to detonate at about 600m above the city almost directly above the building. The resulting blast, while instantly melting the entire contents, applied a downward force rather than a lateral one thus leaving most of the stonework intact. The Aioi Bridge which is about 300 metres away from the dome, has a distinctive “T” shape and is thought to have been the target for the the bombadier. At the end of December, 1945 when the worst radiation effects had subsided from the area, the bomb had caused the deaths of approximately 140,000 lives.
Hiroshima City decided in 1966 to preserve the building as a reminder of the first atomic bombing in history and as a symbol of the vow to pursue the abolition of nuclear weapons.
This is one of many monuments, not only in Peace Memorial Park but scattered around Hiroshima.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is very detailed and has some very graphic descriptions and stories. At 8.15 am on the 6th of August 1945 Hiroshima was virtually levelled and thousands and thousands of people died in an instant. Many of the exhibits are personal items left by the victims. There are many photos and descriptions that convey the horror of the event. The museum doesn’t hold back in the descriptions. It also tells the story in a balanced way, by describing some of the terrible events that the Japanese had themselves inflicted on other races in the past.
Hiroshima’s deepest wish is the elimination of all nuclear weapons and the realization of a genuinely peaceful international community.
At 4pm we made our way to the baseball, to watch the mighty Hiroshima Carps take on the Yokohama Bay Stars. All the team warmups start at 4pm, and the game begins in earnest at 6pm. A sea of red filled the massive stadium. The Yokohama fans, wearing blue, were vastly outnumbered by the red. We found our seats and watched the two teams go through their routines. Two bands on either end of the arena also went through their paces. The bands consisted of about 6-8 trumpets, drums and a conductor. The performances appeared to be extremely organised as only one band played at a time, while their team batted. The “fanfares” started out fairly simple and became a little more complex as the night wore on, both bands tried to stir their respective supporters into a frenzy as the batters tried, most times in vain, to hit the balls out of the park. Each band seemed to be trying to out-do the other, when it was their turn to play. I’m not sure how effective the conductors were, but, they certainly looked good, as they stood there in their respective colours and flapped their arms about in every direction with some very unconventional conducting patterns.
With all this activity it became apparent that a drink would be needed to stop from going hoarse. The Japanese have this covered as well. At that moment a very colourful young man with a huge lump on his back appeared down into the area we were sitting. The lump on his back was a keg full of beer. Thats right, “portable beer” a quick signal and the beer comes to you! This man was selling Asahi beer.
Shortly after he left the area a young girl appeared for the opposition, Kirrin. Why the AFL haven’t done this is beyond me.
Late in the game, at the end of the 7th innings, as the home team was flagging, the supporters had another trick up their sleeves, “The Red Balloons”. I looked around the ground and in an instant the whole stadium was looking more red than before. Almost everybody had a long red balloon in their hand, somehow, these balloons were blown up and appeared as if by magic.
At a given point all these balloons were unleashed by their holders filling the skies with deflating red balloons, what an amazing sight, another thing the AFL could take a look at!
At the end of the night, despite the best efforts of the “Red” band and the secret weapon “Red Balloon” the “Carps” faced the same end as the balloons, DEFLATED.
The next day we took a long Tram ride, then boarded a ferry bound for the island Miyajima. We took the rope car up to near the top of the mountain, then we hiked up the rest of the trek to the summit of Mt. Misen. Unfortunately the view was not great because of the overcast and smoggy conditions. Along the way we visited many Temples, Halls and Shrines. After we made our way down and had lunch we visited the Daisho-in Temple. Founded in the 12th century this Temple is the most prestigious in Western Japan.
Next, we head to Kyoto
Lance and Barbara