Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nagasaki: Impressions

Notes on a visit to Nagasaki, viewing reminders of the atomic bombing of Japan by the US. Why we need a global ban on nuclear weapons . . . .

I am in Nagasaki prior to going to Hiroshima for the World Nuclear Victims Forum.

Yesterday I visited the sites related to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9,1945.

These are some simple impressions of a first-time visitor.

I wasn't prepared for the number of groups of schoolchildren visiting these sites. It gave me hope to see them.

Peace Park in Nagasaki. (Note the school group assembled before the statue.)

One group of schoolchildren -- about 8 to 10 years old, I think -- was performing a ceremony before the main statue in the Peace Park. Each child spoke some words, then a few carried up multiple strands of paper cranes to add to those already hanging there, and then one student came up and led the rest in singing a song.

The next day I had an opportunity to speak with some of these visiting schoolchildren.

Being at the hypocenter of the bomb took my breath away. You enter a separate park with a wide plaza in the center. Where is the hypocenter? And then you see the edge of a series of concentric rings out of the corner of your eye.

Down a set of steps, an exhibit behind glass shows the actual ground level at the time of the bombing, filled with deformed debris. I thought it was appropriate that the glass made it impossible to get a picture without also capturing my own reflection.

Debris at ground level of the Nagasaki hypocenter.

On a wall alongside the eternal flame, a series of tiles were provided by peace advocates from around the world -- young and old. 

Peace tile, Nagasaki.

I was particularly struck by one that showed the faces of the contributors. It reminded me of a graphic I saw a few months ago about the campaign in Japan to prevent re-militarization.

People Power Against War in Japan: A Lesson for Us All?

Just outside the atomic bomb museum, there is a monument to the mothers and children killed by the bomb.

Detail, monument to mothers and children killed by the atomic bomb, Nagasaki.

It reminds me of Munch's "Scream." I felt that if there was just one image to sum up my visit here, it would be this one.

The 1995 Nobel Peace Prize.

The actual Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the Pugwash Conferences in 1995 is on display in the museum. (As someone who was once involved in revoking a Nobel Peace Prize, I found it notable.)

The most moving part of the visit was the memorial to the victims: Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims. I didn't take photographs there, but here is one I found on the web:

Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims

Finally, these two pictures -- Nagasaki before and after the bomb -- summed it all up for me:

Nagasaki - before (above) and after (below)
11:02 a.m., August 9, 1945.

Why are we waiting to eliminate nuclear weapons?

MORE: Please see also Encounter in Nagasaki . . . and . . . FIRE AND BLAST: A Curriculum that Confronts Nuclear Danger? . . .

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