Janne Robberstad

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Miyajima and Hiroshima

By spotogspindel | October 22, 2016

So much beauty and so much memories of terror in one day! My last day in Japan, I took a day-trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima, a small island right outside Hiroshima. Despite it´s small size, you can find several Unesco world heritage sites here. Starting with the great Torii gate. It is a symbol of the boundary between the spirit and the human worlds. It was first built in 1168 about 200 meters from land, but on low tide you can walk out to it.

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It lies in front of the Itsukushima shrine. At high tide, it looks like it is floating on the water, as you can see below. The main shrine was built in 593. So, so beautiful, even though I couldn´t enter because of the tide.

 

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Another beauty is the red 5-storied pagoda of Goju-no-to, built in 1407. I´ve seen a couple of these pagodas, and this is just breath-taking!

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Right next to the pagoda is the Senjokaku Shrine. A huge wooden building nick-named “the shrine of a thousand straw mats”. There are no walls and a large, airy ceiling, so it´s a nice place to cool down in warm days. Under the ceiling there are dozens of paintings, old and some new, with scenes from traditional Japanese history and mythology, like the one below of a warrior riding his horse.

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I could have spent two days here, there was so much to see, but since I only had one day, I also wanted to visit Hiroshima itself and the memorial park there. Hiroshima is undoubtedly most known for being the target of the world´s first atomic bomb used in warfare. August 6th, 1945, 8:15 AM. In the photo below you can see the remains of the only building left standing after the attack, now the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Thousands were killed instantly. Near the epicenter of the explosions, everything was instantly turned to ash, so no-one knows exactly how many people died. But it is assumed that between 90 000 – 146 000 people died during the first 4 months after the bomb, half of them the first day .

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When I visited, the were hoards of Japanese school-children on field-trips, coming from all over Japan, in additions to visitors from all over the world. This is, without a doubt, a very important site to visit, to contemplate over mankind´s common history. It may not be a comfortable experience, but the more important.

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Inside the museum, there were photos of Hiroshima before and after the bomb, and a gathering of things, remains found around the epicenter. A watch, a sandal, a bicycle…

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Outside was a collection of origami paper-cranes. Thousands and thousands. Inspired by a young girl, sick from leukemia, who thought if she only could finish folding 1000 paper-cranes, she would get well again. She only made 667 before she died. But her classmates finished her task, and later she has inspired thousands of other children to make a thousand cranes. They are sent from all over the world, and gathered here at the Children´s peace monument. Later, they are recycled into postcards with the printed text “Never forget”,  given to visitors, encouraging to send them and pass on the message.

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I had mentally prepared myself for the experience this day, with defenses high to handle the emotional impact. I kept thinking about two things: Donald Trump should visit this place, with his haphazard thoughts of nuclear weapons. And a news-story I´d read earlier in the week, where Brian Cox´s explanation for why we´d never met aliens even thought there most likely is life out there: advanced civilizations usually kill themselves off.

But at the same time… all these young people who make an effort to change the world for the better. Be it by folding paper-cranes to abolish nuclear weapons, or by participating in global collaborations like the Global Science Opera.

I´m sorry to end on such a sad note. Japan was absolutely fantastic, and I can recommend it whole-heartedly! It has the best of all things: a long and interesting history and culture, a rich aesthetic in every aspect of life, modern day comfort and innovative technology. And the most important: a kind, welcoming and warm people.

Topics: Diverse, travel | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Miyajima and Hiroshima”

  1. gail Says:
    October 22nd, 2016 at 15:17

    So many conflicts, the beauty of the art and architecture, the documented cruelty of the Japanese troops, the horror of the bombing. No one culture is blameless, no one fully guilty. Humans are creatures of contrast. If only we would more often pause, reflect, and learn.

  2. spotogspindel Says:
    October 22nd, 2016 at 17:37

    You´re so right, Gail. Wise words!

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