Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I went on an outing yesterday to Nagasaki. When I noticed how close we'd be to it while we're in Fukuoka, I wanted to go, if only to be able to say that I've been somewhere an atomic bomb was dropped, especially since I've been to Los Alamos, where the bomb was developed, and the museum there.
The day started early-meeting on the quayside to load buses at 6:45 am. Nagasaki's only around 60 miles away, or something like that, but it took more than 2 hours to get there. Seems like we stopped every 20 minutes.
First, we went to the Peace Park. It is built on the ruins of a prison, the closest public building to the hypocenter of the bomb. All that remains from the prison are the bottom few inches of the walls. There is one main statue symbolizing the threat of nuclear weapons and the need and efforts for world peace. Many countries have donated statues and sculptures for the park. There is one from St. Paul, MN, a sister city to Nagasaki.
Then we went to the main attraction, the A-bomb Museum. There was a lot about the effects of the bomb-physically what would happen to people. They described effects of the heat, effects of radiation. They had some rubble recovered from the city after the bomb: glass bottles melted together, coins melted together, metal stairways twisted up, clothes stained by blood. The initial flash of the bomb bleached things, and left images where other objects blocked the light. There was one picture of a wall with the shadow of a person and a ladder burned into it by the flash. There was one melted glass bottle that had a human hand bone fused into it. The museum focused a lot on the children (both the survivors and those killed by the bomb). There were pictures of small charred corpses. There was also one part that focused on steps taken worldwide to prevent nuclear warfare in the future. Nowhere in the entire museum did they mention any reason for the bombing. It was just "this is what happened." There was no why. It could give someone the impression that the maniacal Americans just dropped the bomb to kill children (and monks, I remember something about monks). One wall had a timeline of events leading up to the bombing. They mention dates that it was decided to develop it and the allies deciding to use it. But even there it doesn't mention that anything was done by Japan to provoke this. It also doesn't say, "We didn't do anything that would make them want to bomb us." But that's to be expected. I expected it at least. They can't get away with saying that it was done for no reason, but they prefer to forget the bad guys of that period in their past. We learned that a lot of countries don't require grade school kids to study history. I tend to not retain most things I've learned in history class, but even I know something about what happened back then and why, and many people of other nationalities that went with us to the museum yesterday don't.
After that, we went to a shrine built in memory of 26 Christians who were martyred at some point in time. Cat, Kris, and I spent most of the time in the chapel at the shrine. It was so peaceful. 6 of them were European missionaries and 20 were Japanese Christians. They were crucified in 1597. There is a museum there, but we didn't go into it because we spent all our time in the chapel.
We also went to a church-the oldest in Japan. But you have to pay to get in and we didn't want to, so we shopped for souvenirs, all of which were too expensive to buy, and went into another church with beautiful stained glass (which was free since it was actually a church and not a tourist attraction). A couple from Georgetown, TX, had signed the guest book! It was exciting for me. I got to say, "Hey! I used to live there!"
After that we drove up a mountain to a park overlooking the city and then went back to the ship.
I'm very glad to have gone and to have seen the A-bomb Museum and the Peace Park. That was the best. Also, outside the museum was an ice cream vendor. She put the ice cream in the cones using a type of spatula. She added small layers of ice cream at a time, creating a rose out of the ice cream. It was more icy than creamy, a lot like home-made ice cream, but more beautiful.

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