Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Vicki C.`s Golden Week Advetures in the Max & Erma-less Islands of Japan

Day 1: Hiroshima
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My very first Golden Week his strange and crazy land of Japan was spent trekking the length of Honshu with my girl Vicki C, a complete Japan virgin!

The Dome of the Atomic Bomb
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From the moment Vicki decided she was coming Japan, number one on her list of things to do was go to Hiroshima and see the Peace Museum. The Dome of the Atomic Bomb is the only building remaining that survived the blast that leveled the city, left as a reminder of the dangers of war.

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The Dome of the Atomic Bomb, from the Peace Park.

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I visited the Peace Museum back when I was at Gaidai. Professor Scott, my Peace, Conflict and Human Rights professor, got the school to pay for our trip to Hiroshima, where his friend, a survivor of the a-bomb and Hiroshima Maiden, told us her story. I would definately recommend the museum, although it avoids discussing the reasons why the bomb was dropped, Japan`s role in the war, and its agression in Asia. I noticed quite a few Chinese and non-Japanese people as we made our way through the museum, and I and couldnt help but wonder what they think about it. Westerners are far more likely to feel a sense of guilt and regret (not that I don`t. I always leave in tears), but I wonder how it would feel to go through the museum as a victim of Japan`s agression, as opposed to a victor over it. Many Asians are disturbed by the fact that Hiroshima is hailed as a center of peace, and those who died there are remembered each year on a memorial held the day the bomb dropped, while victims of Japan`s agression are forgotten or denied recognition, apology, or renumeration.
Paper Cranes for Peace

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A sliver of light cuts through the cloudy shadows to expose a rainbow of paper cranes.

Every year, people fold paper cranes in hopes of peace, sending them to Hiroshima, to be displayed at Sadako`s Memorial. Sadako was a young child when the bomb was dropped, and although she survived the initial blast without injury, she later developed Lukemia. She believed that if she could fold a thousand paper cranes, she would be healed. As I told this story to Vicki, she remembered that her fourth grade class has also read about Sadako, and had folded a thousand cranes to send to Hiroshima.

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Hope for the Future?
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Boys shoot peace signs, and each other, with realistic BB guns in front of the Dome of the Atomic Bomb.

A Child`s Prayer
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After patiently waiting in line for a chance to pray, this young boy stepped up to this small altar infront of Hiroshima`s eternal flame (which will burn until the last nuclear weapon is destroyed). Unlike many of the peace pilgrims before him, who had simply stepped up, threw their coins into the offering box, clapped their hands, bowed their heads, and walked away, he stood with his head bowed for a long time. Long enough for me to work up the courage to take this picture, and long enough to annoy his mother. She called for him to come, and as he continued to pray, unmoved, she stompped up to him, grumbling, and pulled him away. As the boy glanced back over his shoulder, the long line of slightly peeved tourists resumed its natural ebb and flow as the adults, well versed in the socially acceptable custom and ritual performed their duty perfectly, almost without thinking, and without missing a beat.


Luke Elliot said...

You had me worried for a moment when your initial Hiroshima posts came out in the old "Hello" format :)

I've always been facinated by kids like that one praying--the kind of kid who is more sensible of good and bad, joy and sorrow than his elders around him.

Anonymous said...

I'm so jealous you got to go to Himeji! I can't believe I've been here so long and haven't been. Now, I don't think I'm going to make it...And as much as I'd like to stay, I might have to save Himeji for a different trip. Cuz America is calling me back home!

Your photos are amazing as always. Thanks for posting so many! I especially like the one of the young boy praying. It's a very eerie thing, Hiroshima. I wish I could go to Nagasaki someday.

Anyway, I'm sorry I can't get Sunday off! I wish I could, but I just bought my tickets to Yamagata, and they're super expensive! From here on out, I need to start saving money!

Melissa said...

Luke, not to worry! No more of that Hello foolishness for me! Its photobucket or bust!

What's really inspiring about kids like that is that, despite their elders, they continue to grow spiritually, not because of them. I was always really interested in the younger children in the old testament, in comparison to their older siblings. Joseph, Jacob, Abel (i think he was second born), David...

What inspires me most about that kid was that he wasnt doing it to impress anyone. He wasnt doing it out of a sense of obligation. 'Out of the mouth of babes he has perfected wisdom...'

Melissa said...

Linz! If you ever want to go back down to Himeji, just let me know! Its got to be one of my favorite places in Japan, especially after our little mountain retreat! You are so close...You better go back pre-LA!

Its impossible to take a bad picture at Himeji...Its has nothing to do with my skills!
Aoi Matsuri was also Amazing! I need to get a better camera, though! Hopefully I`ll be posting some of those photos soon! And I cant wait to hear about the wedding in Yamagata!