Sunday, July 10, 2005

Hiroshima and Food

So, this was a pretty intense weekend. This post will in all likelihood be long, and full of many sidetracked opinions and very strange language since much of my view of the world was changed. Sorry in advance. But I did take some good pictures, so keep going.

Let’s begin with Friday. After class on Friday I accompanied Mary, Kari, Finella, and Katrine to Kyoto, where we revisited all the things that Eric, Mary and I already saw on Thursday. There is not much to tell about Friday, except for the fact that I bought a Junbei and some Geta for the Gion festival next Thursday. You can see a Junbei if you go back to the Kamakura pictures, it is what most of the guys are wearing. And Geta are wooden sandals. We also returned to the Higashihon-ji (I think I actually may have the name wrong), you know, the big scary and mysterious temple. It is not as mysterious when it is open. It is a working temple, and feels a great deal like a modern Christian church in the U.S. So I was a little let down. But I did take this picture.

Well, the next day we went to Hiroshima. We got up at 6 and started our train ride at 7. By taking the Shinkansen, we were able to reach Hiroshima in 2 hours. This picture is some of our group making use of the pay phones on the Shinkansen platform to call relatives (by the way family, I haven’t called because I used up my phone card calling about the “tumor”, which is now almost totally gone, and have not bought a new one. Plus, I put about an hour average worth of work into this every day, and as a result there is really nothing left to tell you).

I can’t really describe how I feel about Hiroshima. It’s complicated. On the one hand, it was amazing. To see the bent I beams of the dome, to know that 60 years ago tens of thousands died where you were standing, to see cement walls embedded with shards of glass, and knowing that someone must have been standing in front of a window. Of course, it is amazing. But at the same time, I kept thinking “that’s all?!” My entire life I have learned about the great and evil Atomic Bomb. Out of fear and respect for its destructive power, I have spent hours immersed in studies of its effects. But going to Hiroshima, the thing that struck me was the fact that nothing of its destruction remains. The city is not a wasteland. Trees grow bellow the point where it exploded. The people of Hiroshima are not grossly deformed from the effects of the radiation. Moreover, the blast was weak. It destroyed so many homes because houses were made of, as Nathan described them, “yard sticks and tissue paper”. It couldn’t even knock down the dome, pictured below. The dome was made of brick, and looks as though, given a sledgehammer and enough time, I could knock it down. The bomb was powerful, but its destructive power seemed truly pathetic compared with the reconstructive power of humanity and life itself. All the same I did not find this encouraging. I guess it is like if, as a child, you go to church and are always told that Satan is the greatest evil in the world, but you realize later in life that Satan is pathetic, and that in fact the ultimate evil is not really as powerful as you expected. But it is real. It is so disorienting that you can’t find it comforting. Not yet at least. Here is the dome.

However, you must know that the above was what took place on an intellectual level. On an emotional level I was crushed, plain and simple. From the moment I saw the dome, I began to have a lump in my throat. When I saw the wall that had been torn to shreds by glass, I began to cry silently. When I reread the story of Sachiko, whose story I knew from “The Thousand Paper Cranes” I began to cry more. When I looked out at the rainy day, towards where the bomb detonated and thought how the use of the atomic bomb probably did contribute to the ending of the war, I sat down on my haunches in despair. I basically cried the entire time, in one form or another. But look at how life has overcome near annihilation.

The verdict on the Peace Park and museum: if you have never thought about nuclear war seriously, you must go. But if you are like me, I don’t know. While monuments and captions on displays can teach, stories of people have more power for me. I cry more for Sachiko, who tries her best to live again and fails, than for Hiroshima the city, which has succeeded in regaining life. Like I said, I can’t express it.

Alright, so after that we took a street car to the ferry terminal that goes to Matsushima Island. It began to rain very hard on the boat, and I had no umbrella. I basically got soaked, but I didn’t care. This is a good picture, I thought.

This, also, is good.

I loved the orange of the Tori Gate, which sits in the ocean at high tide.

The scenery on the island was beautiful. Very peaceful, and packed with deer…

Which were almost as amusing as the soaked tourists.



Also beautiful.

Less beautiful with me in the picture, but I have to prove to you that I went and did not just scan postcards.

So after returning to Seta, me and six of the other guys went out for one of those grill your own meat places. And that was it for the day.

So the next day I asked Yoko, a new tutor who I think I probably like the most out of all the tutors due to the fact that she is so chill and smiles so often, if she could take me and a small group to Osaka. She agreed, and Eric, Yoko, Adam and I went. We basically went to all the places that we have already been to in Osaka, but I enjoyed it more this time. I find that if I am in good company it enhances my travel experience greatly. I could be seeing some fairly mundane things, but if I am in good company, I generally have a great time.

The feature of today was the “Tabehodai”, which means all-you-can-eat. We went to an all you can eat sushi place for lunch. The final tally: Adam 43 plates, Eric 28 plates, Trenton 25 plates, Yoko 22 plates. This is my stack.

Observe our consumptive power!

I will not want to eat for a while.

1 comment:

dad said...

Thanks for the update