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Friday, June 2, 2006 - Hiroshima Park

This time I’m typing this up on the shinkansen. About halfway into the second leg of travel. Today we didn’t do much again aside from going to hiroshima park since we didn’t know if we could get it done in a few hours or how long it will take.

We got up really early again thinking going through the Hiroshima Peace Park would take a long time, especially going through the museum. After we lock our stuff up in lockers at the train station–since we checked out of the hotel–we got on the rail car to the a-bomb dome. There’s no way to explain what you feel there until you experience it for yourself. To think that something your country did destroyed so many civilian lives. The really odd part is now Japan more or less welcomes americans. Although we got stares it didn’t feel like it was because they hated me or anything. All I can say is it felt really strange, kinda surrealistic. The whole time I was at the park I couldn’t make eye contact with any japanese, and I had mirrored sunglasses on.

Once I took some pictures I looked around and saw a few groups of school kids, as expected. Pretty much every day we go to some tourist type place there’s tons of school kids there and I end up taking pictures of them. Today, after seeing what we did to them over 60 years ago, I decided I was not going to take any pictures that have school kids in them. Boy, did I pick a bad day. This was probably the most kids I’ve seen at any location, although it was a big area, too. And to make matters worse a few of the schools had projects to do that involved asking people different things. One was doing a little survey about what I think peace should be, another just wanted a signature, and another had a few short essay questions. Of course they were kids who would first say things like ‘kowai’ ((hope that’s spelled right) it means scary. Can be confused with kawaii as fast as the japanese talk, which is ‘cute’). I had to show them I wasn’t some big scary american. They always asked what country I’m from and when I said America they acted all excited that I’m from America. The whole time I’m thinking these kids parents or grand parents witnessed the bombing first hand, like I said it just felt weird.

The actual park itself was nice. Aside from the atomic dome, there’s a memorial for all those who died and still die from the after affects of the bomb. Every year they put the names of new victims in a box underneath the memorial. There is also a fairly decent sized peace bell. Presented for anyone to ring, it symbolizes that peace should be heard around the world. Obviously the bell can only be heard for maybe a km or so away. The whole time there you could hear it being rung, usually by the plethera of school kids there. Like I said this made getting pictures without them rather difficult. Although I did finally get to see what an actual bento “lunch box” looked like.

The museum was really good too. Thought it would take longer but it really is dependant on how much reading you want to do. I read some of it but skipped a lot of the stuff describing the process leading up to the bomb and how it’s made and such since I kinda knew it and just skimmed it. It does get very graphic and very personal at times. It was almost like the kids we warned about this since I didn’t get the constant “hello” greeting whenever they see someone that speaks english. They just kinda looked at you and moved on.

Even taking a very leisure time it was done within like 6 hours, so it can easily be a half day thing. It’s definately something everyone should see at least once in their life, but not really a revisit unless you are showing other people around. One foot note on this atomic blast that I heard from the Josh in Japan podcast (who’s in the navy). He said that america has weapons capable of doing tons more damage than this blast did. I don’t think he really mentioned how much more as that information is classified I’m sure, but that doesn’t surprise me for a bit that the weapons we have now are much more powerful.
Like I mentioned at the start, I’m typing this all up on the shinkansen back to Tokyo. We are going to stay in Asakusa tonight and fly back tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll have time to stop around Asakusa since it’s been recmmended by a lot of japanese. So right now we’re in the green car (defintely worth the extra money as much as we used it) and Informatin is constantly scrolling accross the led screen on the front of the car. If I understand it right we’re going 339 km/h, which I can completely believe as we are really zooming past stuff. This is the first night train ride so that could be a reason it seems faster, too. I did see on the first train it said, in english, that the current speed was 285 km/h, and we’re definately going faster than that on this one. Wish it scrolled the information in both Japanese and English like it does for the station information. I see a ton of stats and percentages and such that I’m sure are very interesting if I knew what they were. Also, realizing I’ve never really recorded anything yet with ath audio recorder, i recorded us waiting at the trian station and waiting for the shinkansen. I’m going to another recording from when we leave the shinkansen to we get to the hotel. We’ll see how well they come out.
So, unless I get online at the airport, this will be my last post from Japan. I REALLY don’t want to go back. I had a friend that was over here for something like 3 months and she said should couldn’t go back because she wouldn’t want to come back. Now I understand what she means. I really can’t explain why I like Japan so much. It could just be the whole vacation mood but usually by the end I’m kinda done vacation and don’t mind going back to the normal daily routine. This time I don’t, if I really could stay over here, I would. I definately want to come again. May take a few years to save up the moeny but it really hasn’t been that expensive. At least as bad as people make it out to be. Aside from the plane ticket and hotel, you can easily get away with 5000 - 7500 yen (like $63 or something) for lunch, dinner, and misc drinks and entrance fees and such. I did still budget a lot for this, and it’s worked out fine. (If I get this right) Nihongo wa arigato gozimasu. Can’t wait to come back to Japan.

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