I went to Hiroshima this past summer as part of a week long excursion through Japan with my siblings utilizing our JR Pass. As a second generation Japanese American, I knew a lot about Hiroshima in relation to American history, but to see it in person was incredible. If you were to walk through Hiroshima, you’d never know that anything ever happened to the city, as it is sprawling with people, city life, and buildings. To know that something tragic did happen there certainly gave the city a powerful feeling that simply could not be suppressed.
We first stopped by a restaurant near by the train station for some Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki. Traditional Okonomiyaki is basically batter with meet and vegetables mixed in, atop sauce and other yummy accouchements. When I went to Hiroshima, however, I was greeted by two large slabs of Okonomiyaki with yakisoba (noodles) in between and fried egg on top. It was certainly quite delicious and the portion was large, but it is definitely something that must be eaten if you are going to Hiroshima.
We took a train to the Hiroshima National Peace Museum. Inside there were various pictures, artifacts, stories, and monuments all in relation to the tragic event which occurred in August of 1945. I was really taken back by the detail in which the museum described the event, and how much work was put in to really give visitors an understanding of how devastating the event was. Aside from all the historic information provided by the museum, outside there were various memorials found in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Throughout the park lie monuments in memory of the fallen, whether they be the children or foreigners: all are mourned. The strategic alignment of every erected monument allows you to view every single monument in a single line that directs straight towards the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of the few buildings which stood strong after the bombing. The point of building everything in one line is to symbolize unity and harmony, oneness.
When it comes to Hiroshima, seeing truly is believing; consequently, believing is feeling. No other city in Japan has left me with as strong of an impression of the country as Hiroshima. The historic context of this country relative to all other places in Japan truly makes it one of a kind. I was surprised how none of my own relatives have ever been to Hiroshima, but I was certainly glad to have gotten the chance to go. Hiroshima offers a part of Japanese history that can best be understood by actually going there; books and movies can only do so much. Sure the trip to Hiroshima was certainly longer to get to compared to cities like Kyoto and Osaka, but for me Hiroshima was more worthwhile than any other city I have visited in Japan.
by Kohshi A. Itagaki