22.03.2010 - 24.03.2010 15 °C
Miyajima was the closest we could get accommodation to Hiroshima (about half an hour away by train). Hostel was clean and fairly small with a nice, relaxed atmosphere and felt pretty safe. The only downside was being in a dorm with bunk beds separated into sections with curtains - noisy if you have inconsiderate room mates, which we did.
Tues 23rd HIROSHIMA:
We visited the Peace Memorial Museum dedicated to the impact and the victims of the Atomic bomb of 1945/ WW2, Children"s Peace Memorial, Victims Cenotaph and A-Bomb Dome (one of the few buildings which partially survived the blast - the remains are now preserved and listed as a World Heritage Site for remembering the horrific consequences of nuclear warfare). The Museum was interesting and very well done but as you would expect very emotive which affected me quite deeply. The cold, calculated 'scientific' planning of how US forces selected Hiroshima as a target was as distressing as reading about the horrific injuries caused by the blast and the radiation. I would definitely recommend it though and think any of the world's politicians who think developing and stockpiling nuclear weapons is justified, should be made to visit this museum and be confronted with the shockingly cruel, inhumane realities. The grey, cold, drizzle that persisted throughout the day added to the sombre mood :-(
I am pleased to say we have had opportunites to participate in democratic activities here - E.g. I have signed two separate petitions campaigning for reductions / abolition internationally in nuclear weapons stocks. Well it's obviously made a difference already as I am very pleased to note in the news that the US and Russia have just agreed to reduce their nuclear warheads stocks - a big step in the right direction!
While Naomi and Sophie warmed up and dried off in a cafe I was considerably more hardcore and walked on for a brief photo call at Hiroshima Castle and nearby Gokoku Shrine.
Weds 24th MIYAJIMA ISLAND:
Miyajima is a small, pretty island which is a conservation / nature area known for its wild deer, great views if the weather is nice, 5 storey pagoda, several shrines and a `floating' torii gate (which in my opinion is a bit over-rated as one of Japan's top sites - it's a red metal structure in the harbour which marks the entrance to a shrine. What's special about this one is they're not normally in the sea - when the tide's in it's meant to look like it's magically floating on the water. Call me cynical but it blatantly isn't).
Naomi and I did our good deed for the day by saving a deer from choking on some litter it had started to eat. Standing by ready to attempt a heimlich manouvre, fortunately we just needed to wait for it to spit out the plastic and swiftly pick it up before they could swallow it. Animal rescue = storing up some good karma around all these Buddhist shrines.
Unfortunately the weather was grotty again so the "Matty Mac" (pac-a-mac lent to me, thanks Matty) has already earnt its space in my backpack (also lent to me, thanks Penny).