hurry with the hordes
hurry with the hordes

reflections on horror

torsdag 9 april 2015 Hiroshima, Hiroshima prefektur, Japan
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From Kyoto we travelled south by the ”bullet train” Shinkansen, to the island of Miyajima and the Itsukushima shrine with its ”floating” torii gate, one of the three most celebrated scenic sights in Japan. Torii are situated at the entrances to shinto shrines and in this case, common people weren't allowed to set foot on the sacred island, but had to arrive by boat through the torii. Miyajima is also famous for its wild deer, that apparently like to steal maps and other papers from tourists and eat them, when they're not lining up to be scratched behind the ears! Their antlers are sawed off as a precaution.

Hiroshima is world-known for the most horrible of reasons, but today's Hiroshima is a city that's moved on from its past. The world's first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, levelling the city for a radius of 2 km in all directions. Virtually the only structure still standing was the Industrial Promotional Hall, which is today called the A-Bomb Dome. Its ruin sits next to a bustling bridge at the entrance to the Peace Memorial Park filled with different memorials; the Peace Fountain, the Flame of Peace, the Peace Bell, the Cenotaph and of course the Children's Peace Monument, crowned with the sculpture of a girl holding a paper crane in her hands. This was erected in remembrance of Sadako Sasaki, a girl who at the age of 12 fell ill with leukemia caused by the radiation, and believed in an old legend that if you fold a thousand paper cranes (cranes being a Japanese symbol of longevity), your wish will be granted. She did, but eventually succumbed to the illness, and now school children all over the world fold garlands of paper cranes and send them to her monument. I read the story many times as a child and could hardly believe I was finally standing in Hiroshima, myself offering a paper crane to the memory of Sadako.

Some of the tiny cranes made by Sadako, using a needle, are on display in the Peace Memorial Museum, and here are also the grisly objects bearing witness to the aftermath of the bomb. Melted roof tiles, fused glass bottles, a charred lunch box and even a piece of a wall and staircase where a victim's shadow was brandished into the stone are on display along with photos of the condition of victims and the devastation that is beyond belief. The most sickening items were display case after display case showing the torn and bloodied clothes worn by school children who had been mobilized to demolish buildings for fire lanes. All in all, some 140,000 people died either from the blast or during the following months from the intense radiation. Thousands more have continued to suffer and die from the effects ever since.

After this experience I hardly had an appetite, but we went out for okonomikyaki, a speciality of the region, in the evening. Loosely translated as ”fry what you like”, okonomiyaki is like a cross between a pancake and an omelette, packed with shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, bacon, noodles and additional fillings to your taste. You sit around the hotplate and watch it being prepared before you, a nice way to round off the evening. We strolled back to the hotel through a shopping arcade that only streched on for three full blocks, a mini-version of what can be found in Tokyo.

Sanna Wiklund
Senast aktiv - från Vasa, Finland

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