Day 17: Hiroshima

There were plenty of sad sights today. It started with viewing the preserved Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. This is now known as the A-Bomb dome and is the most widely known image from Hiroshima. It’s probably very close to how it remained after the blast, but support structures have been added to preserve the ruins.

Around the Peace Park are many memorials to children, workers, districts, and other factions that were destroyed in the blast.  During our walk around the park we came across a large group of school children singing a very touching song at one of the memorials. I was nearly moved to tears several times at the park while looking at the various memorials. (I think I’ve seen “Barefoot Gen” too many times) It’s really hard to describe how it felt to be at a place where people for miles around were instantly vaporized in the blast. Sobering is probably the best I can do for now. I’ve said “just nuke ‘em” as a kid many times and now I know that’s such a ignorant statement.   Below is a clip from Barefoot Gen:

 

It’s a good anime to watch, as it’s based on manga written by a survivor. You should be able to find all of it subtitled on YouTube, if not, I have the DVD if you want to watch it… so let me know when we get back.

We then made our way over to the museum, it has a very good account of the history of Hiroshima before, during, and after August 6th, 1945.  It also includes the build up to why Hiroshima was picked for the first atomic bomb target, relics from the debris, and many accounts of the deaths following the blast. One of the saddest relics was a 3 year old child’s tricycle that was burned by the flash, and the child died that night. The father buried the tricycle with the child but later donated it to the museum. I wish we had the time to visit Nagasaki also, because there are few mentions about the 2nd atomic bomb attack at Hiroshima’s monuments.

Time soon neared for our Mazda tour so we rushed over by taxi in order to make our appointment for the English tour. This has been the only guided tour of anything we have seen in Japan so far, and I was kinda annoyed that we could not just wander around and take pictures at our leisure.

The tour started off with a bus drive through the Mazda campus. I’ve never been to a factory complex before but the Mazda complex was really huge and they have their own private sea port next to the car storage facility, which is basically a huge parking deck that can hold 11,000 vehicles. They also had their own power plant, producing 60% of the energy used, and their own two-year college for training workers.

Inside the museum, we were given a tour that included a brief history lesson of the corporation, historic Mazda models, examples of the rotary engine’s evolution, and a lesson on the development of a car from design to completion using the RX-8 as the subject. There were great also examples of Mazda’s JDM cars and we got a lot of good car pics. Understandably, they did not allow pictures inside the factory. The tour in general is like a live showing of “How It’s Made”.

The cars helped lightened my mood but I’m still sad from the Peace Park. It’s time to go get some dinner.