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November 4, 2011

Nagasaki Peace Park and Memorial


We woke up on Saturday in Nagasaki with plans to take a morning boat to Gunkanjima (the abandoned 'Battleship Island'...more on this later). The weather, however, had other plans. Due to steady rain all morning, our hostel owners advised that the cruise we wanted to take may be cancelled, or at the very least the ocean would be rough, causing an unpleasant ride. So we switched our plans around and decided to visit the site of the atomic bomb, and the associated Peace Park and museum first. 



Our hostel, Kagamiya, was located in Hotarujaya area. Easily accessible by tram and in such beautiful surroundings, it was truly a pleasure to stay there. The couple who run it were really lovely and helpful too!  If you're visiting Nagasaki, I would highly recommend checking it out.






The walk to our tram-stop was really pretty, even in the rain. The trams also add an element of charm to the city. Fukuoka's subway system & bikes serve us well for transport at home, but there was something old-worldy about clunking down the main streets of the city in the old trams.


First of all, we visited the Hypocenter of the Atomic Bomb Explosion. You can read about it below.


Next to the hypocenter's monolith stands a relocated segment of a church which partly survived the blast. Together they stand as a reminder of the destruction...



As we saw in Hiroshima when we visited in 2009, thousands of colourful paper cranes are found around the site of the atomic bomb, as symbols of peace...



We found a very serious cat escaping the rain, taking shelter with the cranes...


Below you can see the church segment (left) and monolith (right) together...



We then took a break from the rain and entered the Atomic Bomb Museum. It was extremely interesting, but generally a sobering experience. So much of what happened surrounding the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki is absolutely incomprehensible, but the museum does a good job of educating visitors, and serves as an anti-nuclear tribute on behalf of the victims of the incident. I left the museum lost in thought, trying to understand how such events can exist in our history. I also asked Kamil to explain some more details of WW2 to me as we pushed on in the rain, towards the Peace Park.

Along the way, as we stopped to take a photo of a fountain, a ginger kitty decided to take advantage of my umbrella! He was super friendly, and very casually sat next to me whilst drying off his fur...





A really cute new friend. I felt bad moving on. Even though he followed us for a little while, in the end he braved the rain again.


The statue below is another memorial for the atomic bomb victims. From what I read in a brochure, the hand pointing upwards serves as a reminder of the past (i.e. the bomb that fell from the sky) and the outstretched hand is symbolic of peace for the future...


The main message that Nagasaki's memorials wish to convey is a strong prayer that Nagasaki will forever remain the second and last city to endure attack by nuclear weapon. It is a prayer that you cannot help but share, after visiting.


Afterwards, we went on to more adventures that day, which I promise to write about soon.
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