Saturday, May 26, 2007
Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to join the junior high school students from Grand Rapids in a trip to Hiroshima. Every year a delegation of eigth graders from Grand Rapids come to Japan to visit our sister city and tour Japan. And every year the students go and visit the peace memorial and A-bomb dome. Visiting the memorial was very sobering for me. Walking through the museum was extreamly sad and disturbing. The museum is very factual and bluntly horrific. The photographs and images of the aftermath can be quite disturbing. I think that the most difficult thing for me to see were the books that list the names of those who died as a result of the bomb. there is a large stone sarcophagus which contains books, and in those books are listed the names of those who died. While we were there they had removed all of the books and were opening them and paging through to remember the victims. Then the books were reverently placed back into the box, and resealed.
I also had the chance to visit the memorial for Sadako. She is the young girl that developed lukemia due to the effects of the bomb. I remember reading the book "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" to my second grade class several years ago and how sad of a story I thought that it was. Now I feel an even deeper connection to the story because I have seen some of the actual cranes that she folded when she was sick. I made sure to fold a special crane the night before we went, and I left it at the foot of her memorial. It was one of the most emotional days that I have had in a long time.
On a more fun note I was also able to go to Miyajima Island. Miyajima Island is the home to the giant floating Tori Gate. The tori gate which is out in the ocean a short ways is considered to be one of the three most pituresque places in all of Japan and I must admit that I felt that it was very beautiful. There were deer that freely roamed the island and they were more aggressive than the deer in Nara. I rode a cable car to the top of the mountain, and had the chance to look around. It was a great view from the top of the mountain. It was a clear day and great weather for being at the top of a mountain. The saddest part is the monkeys that are supposed to live at the top of the mountain were not there. They were supposedly out in the forest eating dinner. So I was a bit sad about that. But it definately was an experience that was well worth it. An eye opening and enlightening couple of days.