Friday, February 29, 2008

Hiroshima

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that I am a total Japanophile. I love the country, culture, people, and food. Even the live food. I have several good friends (one who passed away) and scores of customers here.

Interestingly, one thing that never comes up in conversation is WWII. But there really is no reason to discuss the War. The oldest of my customers and friends here were born during or just after the war and have no memory of it. To them America has always been a proud ally and trading partner. As for me, I was born nearly a quarter century later, and even before traveling here I thought of the country as interesting and mysterious, not a place that people still have living memories of fighting (including several uncles).

So while WWII is ancient history to me, an obvious thing to do during my stay in Hiroshima was to go to the “Peace Park”, which was ground zero for the first atom bomb. Although the U.S. absolutely made the right decision and I have no remorse for the action, it was still a chilling place to visit. I just happened to be there at 8:15 (the time the bomb went off) and heard the somber music they play every day at that time.

The museum located in the area has excellent displays of the day and immediate after effects of the bomb. But the second half of the museum played up the victim card too much. Yes, yes, lots of people suffered horrendous deaths, but 100,000 people died in the fire-bombing of Tokyo, and that is considered the most destructive bombing in history. The only shrine in Tokyo is a random plaque most people pass without noticing (I can’t even remember where it was, but according to the link there is also a small museum).

There is one mention of Pearl Harbor, and hidden to one side is a casual reference to the “victims of Japan in WWII”. I know this is a shrine to the Hiroshima victims but it was a result of a war Imperial Japan brought on themselves.

No comments: