When I Visited Hiroshima – by Emma Casburn

6 August 2015

70 years has passed since the tragic atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan. Here, Infinite Travel founder Emma Casburn tells us about when she went Hiroshima and saw firsthand how the city is slowly rebuilding itself.

Today (6 Aug 2015) marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. I was lucky enough to visit the city when travelling around Japan and it made quite an impact. It was a grey day and we’d arrived very early; both these elements increased the dreary, down-cast feel. From the station we walked through some small streets typical of Japanese cities, with the sound of high-pitched music floating out of shops and neon lighting in all directions.

Then, all of a sudden, the iconic Genbaku Dome was right there in front of us as we came out into the open near the river. I was overwhelmed by the fact that it was right there in the middle of a bustling modern city and yet looked almost exactly as I’d seen in the pictures from 1945. Immediately I felt a chill and quiet fall over me. This building had been the only thing recognisable following the A-bomb. Reading the information boards helped the magnitude of this sink in. We explored more of the city and then visited the incredible Peace Memorial Museum. Take a tissue! Although we often associate holidays with fun and laughter I think it’s important to take in important cultural sights and events such as this, even if the emotions provoked aren’t necessarily positive. I learnt a lot whilst in the museum

The temperature at ground zero was 6000°C. Anything flammable instantly burst into flames. To this day the ‘shadows’ of people hit by the intense heat of the blast remain burnt into walls and steps around the city.

The ‘Flame of Peace’ has been burning since 1964 in Hiroshima and will not be extinguished until the Earth is free from the threat of nuclear weapons. Despite reports after the bombing that the city would be barren of life and growth for 75 years, the very next spring, shoots began to grow and greenery was visible, giving residents hope and determination to rebuild their city.

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One object I particularly remember reading about was a tricycle… the story behind it is so moving… but I’ll let you visit and find out all about it yourself. On exiting the museum, the grey skies and drizzle had cleared and it felt as if there’d been a new beginning.  We walked through the Memorial Park in the sunshine and enjoyed the vibrant green surrounding the monuments and statues, and listened to the soft sound of the fountains, gently reminding us how vibrancy was restored to this city.

We were in search of something uplifting after taking in so much. We travelled an hour to Miyajima, home to the famous ‘floating’ torii gate (ranked as one of Japan’s three best views). Aside from the shrines one very unusual presence on the so-called ‘Shrine Island’ is wild deer. They’ve become accustomed to people (almost too friendly in some cases I might add!) and wander around the sights and streets as if they were tourists themselves. It makes for some great pictures and a rare chance to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures.

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Later in the trip we also visited Nagasaki, the other city where an atomic bomb was dropped. Many people fled from Hiroshima and travelled to Nagasaki following the atrocities where they subsequently perished in the second bombing.  However it’s documented that there were 165 nijū hibakusha or double survivors, the most notable being Tsutomu Yamaguchi, whose story you can read here.

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