No visit to Hiroshima is complete without a visit to see the historical Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial. As an American, I felt that I had to visit this place. I knew it would be uncomfortable but sometimes you have to face uncomfortable things head on to understand the true weight of something. It’s almost like ignoring problems thinking that they may go away one day. Peace, nuclear power, the rights of people… all of these things really get you thinking when you visit the Atomic Bomb Dome.
In fact, deciding to complete my practicum in Japan was partly decided because I would have the opportunity to go visit the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima. It’s an important and dark part of American history. I was originally placed in Hiroshima, but my school relocated me to a kindergarten in Okayama because they thought it would be a better fit for my background in Early Childhood Education.Thankfully, Hiroshima wasn’t too far from Okayama so I was still able to visit the Atomic Bomb Dome.
When I drafted my letter for the program, visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome was the main reason that I stated for going to Japan. It’s a really heavy feeling, that part of American history. An atomic bomb killing so many people in one instant. Standing in the very spot that the bomb dropped all of those years ago was very surreal. Seeing the destruction to the Atomic Bomb Dome and imagining the extent of the damage. It’s horrifying and scary.
What was even more amazing about the whole experience is the stark contrast between the almost obliterated building with the beautiful park and buildings of Hiroshima behind it. Japan has definitely moved on after that horrible day. It made me feel a little hopeful about the future. Hiroshima’s efforts towards peace and preventing something so horrible happening like this again is admirable. Even though Japan made their own mistakes during the war, that does not erase the destruction from the atomic bomb.
I’m not sure how anyone can walk away from this experience without feeling defeated and depressed. It’s a very difficult experience. Some of the things that I experienced were so uncomfortable and I had to resist the urge to run away, especially while hearing the stories of survivors.
Oddly enough, while my mood was very somber and I found the whole visit upsetting… there were so many Japanese people visiting as well with smiling faces. They pushed their kids to pose in front of the building while telling them to say cheese and smile happily. I felt very odd seeing that since I was feeling ashamed of my own country’s actions that ruined so many lives. I couldn’t bring myself to take a picture in front of the dome. What was there to be happy about? 🙁
Regardless, I’m happy that I had the chance to visit the Atomic Bomb Dome. It really puts things in perspective.