So a couple of weekends ago I went on a field trip for my Peace Studies class. The focus was Nagasaki’s history and events of the atomic bomb. Our first stop was to hear a live speech from a survivor of the bombing. Mr. Joji Fukahori told his story in Japanese, but they did give us a copy of his speech printed in English. Before he started his speech I read through the printed copy first so I could try to fully listen to his speech and try to understand what I could in Japanese. The story is not a short one and there are many greusome details and by the end I was desperately trying to hold back tears. On August 9, 1945 Mr. Fukahori was 14 years old and at the time his mother, 13 and 11 year old brothers and 5 year old sister were around 600 meters from the hypocenter when the bomb hit, and all four died. He had gone to his school (located 3km away from the hypocenter) which had been turned into a factory for making things needed by the Imperial Japanese Army. Here is a scene that really stood out to me:
“During this time I saw things that must never be seen again. I cannot express how terrible the scene was. There was a woman who was completely naked, lying powerless where the bomb blast had thrown her several metres. She was talking in a weak voice, but after a while, she died. There were dead bodies burned completely black, lying upside down with their feet in the air. There were people who had started to crawl along the ground to the river’s edge, desperate for water, but had never made it and died there. There were people who had reached the water’s edge and fallen with their heads in the water, and died there” (Mr. Fukahori).
I took a lot of pictures in the beginning of this field trip especially around the Peace Park, but as the field trip ended with the Atomic Bomb Musuem things got pretty grimm and I decided to stop taking pictures. With Mr. Fukahori’s recollection I bet you can understand why I stopped taking pictures. The musuem contained artifacts, pictures of survivors, pictures of the dead, the destruction and all of the above. The museum also had additional survivor testimonials. However, I learned a lot during this field trip especially through the actual survivors I met and had the amazing chance to hear their stories. It was an eye-opening experience and I don’t think it would have affected me as much as it did seeing these things in person. I hope the world will never see this travesty again.
So after Mr. Fukahori’s speech we went to the Nagasaki Musuem of History and Culture. At the time we were walking through they were doing a historical reinactment play. Here is a picture with one of the performers and my friend from class:
Next stop is the Peace Park. During our tour of the Peace Park we had a guide who was also a Japanese survivor of the atomic bomb. However, our guide at the time of the bombing was 2 years old. He said that his mother had managed to escape and found family to take them in. Below is the main statue at the Peace Park and it represents East and West coming together in harmony. The hand is raised representing protection from above like the atomic bomb, and now I actually can’t remember what the hand faced down represents. The image of the statue takes elements from Greek, Roman, and Buddhist characteristics and that was done on purpose to symbolize the world coming together in peace. It really is a beautiful statue. You can’t really tell from the picture, but the black base of the statue is actually a huge fountain and water continuously cycles over the black stone. Our guide had mentioned that one of the most important thing for those that were caught up in the bomb was water. That everyone desperately needed water, and our guide mentioned that a lot of people escaping the bomb crying for water if someone gave them water they would die soon after. Basically some of the peoples insides had already deteriorated and were beyond help at that point; however, through testamonies it is clear that getting that water had given them some relief in their final moments. Even in Mr. Fukahori’s story he describes how people were desperate for water. So the theme throughout the Peace Park is water and there are multiple fountains throughout to honor the memory of those who perished.
Here is one of the air raid shelters:
Here is a class picture with our tour guide in front of one of the important fountains. You can see the main statue in the background.
Here is one of the stray kitties that was roaming the park. Of course I have to take pictures of the kitties. :) This one was really friendly and just wanted attention.
Here is our guide showing us preserved portion of the destruction of the Atomic Bomb remnants.
Here are some of the artifacts from the Atomic Bomb Musuem, and there were a lot of clocks which for some reason I felt really creeped out by. This clock stopped at 11:02 when the bomb hit.
This is a part of one of the big churches that was destroyed by the bomb. There were only a few peices left of the building. The church has since been rebuilt; however, it is an entirely new building now.
This tall black statue is a memorial for the Hypocenter of where the atomic bomb hit. Where this statue sits was the hypocenter. Also, notice how people leave water bottles on the statue. It all goes back to the importance of water for those hit by the bomb. The water bottles are left as tribute to those that perished. That their spirits can have the water in the afterlife.
Here in the musuem is a statement from President Obama that says the U.S. will take measures to support a world without nuclear weapons.
I have to admit that this particular day felt like a really long and heavy day, but I am truly grateful for the knowledge I have gained experiencing these places and individual stories first hand.