Take a second just to think about where you live, your daily routine, your commute to/from work or school, etc. Now, imagine, out of nowhere, an atomic bomb comes hurling through the sky and literally wipes out your entire city. Nothing is left standing. You’re not sleepwalking anymore, are you?
What was once the classroom you spent hours studying in has burned to the ground, your favorite restaurant has been reduced to piles of rubble, and your home unrecognizably destroyed. Your daily routine has been erased in a matter of seconds and the hospital you would go to for the injuries incurred no longer exists. Hard to fathom right?
When visiting Hiroshima or Nagasaki, it’s difficult to imagine such an event took place nearly 70 years ago. I will never understand the point of war, and I don’t need a history book to tell me how awful it is to wipe out entire cities of innocent people. When you go, even though you weren’t personally responsible for the damage, pay your respects.
A walk through the Peace Park, especially during low season, is eerily quiet, and with the cold setting in, it’s like you can almost feel the heaviness of the tragedies running down your spine. So bow for a true souldier city leading the way towards world peace, and visit the 2020 vision campaign website to learn more about Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s mission for a nuclear weapon free world.
Okay, let’s switch topics to something more festive, shall we?
For people who don’t celebrate Christmas or at least not with a religious meaning behind it, Hiroshima sure decorates like they do. Over the holidays, Peace Boulevard is lined with lights, lights, and more lights. Whether strings of lights are spiraling up a tree or donned in the shape of Cindarella’s carriage, the street is a classically bedazzled sight. The lights come on when the sun goes down around 5:30pm so dress warm! Illumination 2012, as it is known, is just the icing of the Christmas cookie.
Throughout the city, you’ll find wreaths hanging in various archways, perhaps a santa or two, a Christmas tree in the center of nearly every shopping center, and if you go to Miyajima (small island off the coast easily accessible by ferry), you can find deer freely roaming around. So even if you can’t be home with family for the holidays, find a few friends, prepare a makeshift ramen dinner, make a fire, and you’ll never know the difference.
After you’ve seen all there is to see, you should play cards or, in this case, Jenga, with the new people you’ve met. That’s what I did. As the tower kept growing, the laughter continued to reach every corner of the room, and we tried to make the other person knock it over with newly shaking hands. It was certainly a highlight of my time there and a great way to end the week with good company.
It takes 2 short days in Hiroshima to see and eat the majority of what the city has to offer. If you’re in town for a week like I was, take a detour down the alleyways where you’ll find bars, shops, and restaurants compacted into short blocks. Those trails rarely see many tourists so if you let your feet lead the way, you may discover your own secret gems. I know I sure did.