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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Japan: Hiroshima - Peace Memorial Museum

After lunch at Miyajima, we took the ferry and tram back to Hiroshima, where we spent several hours at the Peace Memorial Museum.

Peace flame

As I'm sure you know, on 6 August 1945, at 8:15am, the world’s first atomic bomb to be used on an inhabited city was dropped on Hiroshima. It killed an estimated 140,000 people, most of them civilians. The Peace Memorial Museum was established in 1955 to present the facts about the bombing, and to encourage the abolishment of nuclear weapons and advocate for world peace.

A-bomb dome
The A Bomb dome

Inside the museum, the exhibits started with the history of Hiroshima City before the bomb, as well as the development of the atomic bomb, and what lead up to the decision to drop it on Hiroshima. Two large models of the city sit in the middle of the first floor, one showing Hiroshima prior to the bombing, and one showing the flattened city afterwards.

There were also displays and exhibits that presented information and history of the nuclear age, as well as scientific information about the atomic bomb. Other exhibits of the museum were rather confronting, with photos and relics showing the damage that the bomb and resulting fires caused. There were rather gruesome photos of bomb victims, covered in burns. Some exhibited artefacts were heartbreaking - items such as burnt and tattered clothes or shoes, blackened watches stopped forever at 8.15, a black and rusting child’s tricycle.

The hypocentre
The location of the hypocentre. The sign reads: Carried to Hiroshima from Tinian Island by the Enola Gay, a U.S. Army B-29 bomber, the first atomic bomb used in the history of humankind exploded approximately 580 metres above this spot. The city below was hit by heat rays of approximately 3,000 to 4,000°C along with a blast wind and radiaion. Most people in the area lost their lives instantly. The time was 8:15am, August 6, 1945. (View of the devastation looking north from hypocentre, November 1945.)

One amazing relic was a section of the old Hiroshima Branch of the Sumitomo Bank wall and steps, where a human “shadow” was etched into the stone. Just before the bomb was dropped, a person was sitting on the steps of the bank. When the bomb exploded, the intense heat rays bleached the surrounding stone, leaving the spot where the person was sitting dark.

The final exhibits were photos and descriptions of the health effects suffered by survivors due to the radiation of the bomb, and at the very end were survivor stories, guest books, and photographs of world leaders who had visited the museum.

A-bomb dome

In 1949, Hiroshima was proclaimed a City of Peace by the Japanese parliament. Hiroshima has been rebuilt into a lovely city, and it uses the lessons learned from its tragic past to encourage the abolition of nuclear weapons. The museum itself was poignant and heart-rending, and a definite must see. I was very, very moved.

Sorry to be so serious – let’s talk about food again.

Here are some photos of that evening's dinner from a random izakaya in Hiroshima.

Spicy chicken wings

We ordered some fried spicy chicken wings. They were hot and juicy, although not very spicy.

Deep fried tofu

I ordered us a serve of deep fried tofu. I have had better tofu - it wasn't as soft and silky as I like it to be. It was acceptable though.

Deep fried mochi!

This is deep fried mochi. When I found out that there was deep fried mochi on the menu, I HAD to order it. But unfortunately it wasn’t that great. It was rather bland, and the chewy texture didn't appeal to me (and normally I love mochi). I preferred the tofu.

Pork skewers with miso

We had some pork skewers with miso. These were delicious - salty and slightly sweet.


And I ordered us a vegetable salad in an effort to counteract all that deep fried stuff. That's how it works right? Salad cancels out the other calories? The salad was surprisingly delicious, with a sweetish, soy sesame dressing. The little blob of white was potato salad.

I must admit it was a terribly unhealthy dinner - at least we didn't eat like that the whole time!

This will probably be my last post before Christmas (I can't believe it's in TWO DAYS, where has this year gone?!), so I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas! I will be eating and drinking a lot, and I'm sure an afternoon nap will also feature in my day. Bliss!

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