Hiroshima (Japan 2014 Day 8)

One day after the anniversary of the first successful nuclear bomb test, 16 July 1945, I visit Hiroshima – the city that 26 days later was the site for the first successful test on a civilian population.

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I walk through a museum of pictures and photographs of a time of horror.

People die from war every day, but on August 6 1945 a city was annihilated in an instant.

"Particularly severe censorship of material relating to the A-bomb delayed for years full reporting of the damage done."
“Particularly severe censorship of material relating to the A-bomb delayed for years full reporting of the damage done.”
"Successive mayors of Hiroshima have sent letters of protest to every nuclear test by any country since 1968. Each time a protest letter is sent, the mayor hopes it will be the last."
“Successive mayors of Hiroshima have sent letters of protest to every nuclear test by any country since 1968. Each time a protest letter is sent, the mayor hopes it will be the last.”

I remember walking through Auschwitz, through Krakow and Warsaw – visiting the old Jewish Quarters of Eastern Europe, feeling such a deep sadness at the loss of a culture and people.

I remember Tuol Sleng in Cambodia, the school turned into a prison camp. The blood still on the walls. Beggars maimed by landmines. The piles of skulls in the Killing Fields.

I remember walking through the streets of Gaza, the bombed out shells of buildings, the salty water from the taps, people still using donkeys for primary transportation.

I wonder whether we’ve actually learned a thing.

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After the peace park and memorials I need to get my head into a different space.

First I have okonomiyaki (a savoury Japanese pancake with seafood, noodles and other amazingness. It’s pretty much amazing.

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Next I head across town to the Hiroshima Manga Museum. It’s extremely cute and there are comics everywhere, even translations of Asterix and Tintin. It’s three in the afternoon and the place is packed with people of all ages and persuasions. I wonder if there’s a difference between reading comics and prose, psychologically. There’s a certain serialised nature to comics, like how novels used to be, and how the may one day be again – there’s things like the Sookie Stackhouse novels that True Blood is based on that are basically chapbooks.

Across the road is the Hiroshima Modern Art Museum, which is fabulous inside and out.

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In the evening I discover a Japanese whiskey bar and fall in love with Yamazaki single malt.

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