A second after the explosion, the downtown area was leveled, save a few buildings. It was decided not to rebuild, but rather to turn the area below the hypocenter into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial park in order to recognize the first nuclear attack in human history as well as pay tribute to those who directly or indirectly lost their lives as a result.
|The Atomic Bomb dome was directly below the hypocenter, and because the explosion came from all directions, this building remained standing.|
But I wasn't made to feel guilty. In fact, I was a bit of celebrity! It became apparent only a minute after arriving at the park that this was a major
destination for elementary school field trips. Schools of identically dressed munchkins, all in matching colored hats, travelled through the park and smiled and waved at me whenever I passed. The older kids were permitted to travel in groups of 4 or 5 and every minute or two, I'd be spotted by one of these groups and hunted down:
"Excuse me, we are from ____ can we ask you some questions?" one would read off a clipboard.
"Sure!" I eagerly replied
One by one they'd go around "Hi, my name is ____, nice to meet you" and then shake my hand.
"Hajimemashite" I'd reply to their amazement.
After they had all introduced themselves to me, they'd ask me where I was from and then try to find it on a map. One group cheated and had me draw an X over Los Angeles. "WOW! AUSTRALIA" some chubster exclaimed. It was apparent cheating was getting him nowhere.
|"Can you please write us a message of peace?"|
|They look cute, but when they're chasing you down, it's a little creepy.|
|Was chased down by at least a dozen groups|
I walked through downtown Hiroshima and gathered that, despite its unique history, the city feels like any other Japanese city: pachinko parlors, karaoke bars, malls, malls, some more malls, and lots of street food. And malls. I had seen enough of this sort of landscape so I hopped on the streetcar and made my way towards Miyajima, which is an island accessible by ferry from Hiroshima.
|A long streetcar ride saw the sun go down|
|Hiroshima from Miyajima|
|Famous Torii Gate|
|Ferries and Hiroshima|
|Slow shutter Hiroshima|
Don't let the picture fool you, the deer that inhabit the island are very friendly. Not Nara Deer friendly, but they've clearly gotten used to the tourists and will hassle you for food if you're not too careful.