Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima, Japan 🇯🇵
Although Hiroshima is a distance away from Osaka, we decided to take a day trip there. The journey started with catching the bus from Osaka at 8.30am which got us into Hiroshima at 1.45pm. The return bus was scheduled to leave Hiroshima at 4.45pm therefore only giving 3 hours to spend in Hiroshima and to make things worse, the rain on that day was torrential. However, I must say the trip well worth it and the rain just made the mood of the day more sombering. I'll try to express what we saw that day. The experience in Hiroshima was really heart wrenching and thought provoking. It is really difficult to see such destruction and the suffering of a fellow human no matter what the situation is.
On Monday, August 6, 1945, 8.45am, the city of Hiroshima changed forever. The world's first atom bomb (Little Boy) was dropped on Hiroshima by the United States under the orders of President Harry S. Truman and the entire city of Hiroshima was virtually annihilated; about 70% of the buildings in the city were destroyed. The population in the city was around 350,000 before the bomb dropped. The bomb killed an estimated 70,000 people and by the end of the year, injuries and radiation poisoning brought the fatalities to over 150,000. The fatalities were so high as no one knew the human effects of the atomic bomb at that time and more personnel were mobilised to Hiroshima to aid the wounded by the Japanese government.
The impact of the bomb was devastating. If you look at the above photo of the 1:1000 scale model of the city, from the Hiroshima peace museum, the red sphere depicted the atomic bomb that was detonated over Hiroshima and at 1:1000 scale the atomic bomb (Little Boy) would only be 3mm in size. In scale that 3mm bomb destroyed almost the entire city. Most buildings in the city of Hiroshima including the castle up until the Second World War were mainly built of wood and they were unable withstand the heat and shock waves generated from the atomic bomb. One of the only building that bearly survived near ground zero was the Hiroshima Prefectual Industrial Promotion Hall which is now known as the Genbaku Dome or Atomic Dome.
The rebuilding of Hiroshima only took place in 1949 with help from the national government through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City law. Part of the rebuilding was to include a Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Atomic Dome was included as part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Within the park, you will also find the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum that was opened in 1955. The museum is definitely worth a visit to understand what Hiroshima as a city has gone through and what devastation and suffering war inflicts. Some of the stories and images in the museum were harrowing. Generations were impacted by radiation poisoning and up to today Hiroshima still suffers higher than average cancer diagnoses compared to other cities around Japan.
Within the Peace Memorial Park, you will also find The Children Peace Memorial. The memorial was erected in 1958 with the main statue entitled Atomic Bomb Children to commemorate the thousands of children that were victims of the atomic bomb. The back story of the Children Peace Memorial is rooted to a girl named Sasaki Sadako. Sasaki was only 2 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Sasaki survived the bomb blast with no serious injuries and subsequently Sasaki grew up like any other child. However without knowing, the exposure to radiation would have an impact on her. In 1954, Sasaki started to develop swells and a year later she was diagnosed with leukaemia and her white blood cells were found to be six times higher than an average child her age. While in hospital for treatment Sasaki started folding paper cranes, this came from the Japanese tradition where if one folds one thousand cranes, the will be granted one wish. Sasaki's wish was to have a world without nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, Sasaki only managed to fold under one thousand cranes and passed away in 1955 at age 12. Her death was due to radiation induced leukaemia. After her death, Sasaki's classmates started fundraising to build a memorial and the money used to build the Children Peace Memorial came from the fundraising campaign by Sasaki's classmates and other school children. Sasaki was immortalised at the top of the statue which depicts a girl holding a wire crane above her head.
Even with the short 3 hours visit to Hiroshima, one could witness the devastation the atomic bomb has caused. Modern nuclear weapons are three thousand time more powerful than the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima. No matter what the circumstances, I strongly believe that the use of a nuclear weapon should never happen. Hiroshima is now known as the City of Peace and I would urge you all who read my travel Journal to read up on the cause of action for the world leaders to come to agreement for a total nuclear disarmament by the year 2020. The link is http://www.mayorsforpeace.org/english/index.html