Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The exact epicenter of the nuclear bomb blast over Nagasaki.  Photo by me, 1983.

Waaaay back in 1983, I found myself in Nagsaki, Japan. I was looking for the McDonalds restaurant, (or, makkudonarudo, in Japanese) and made a right turn into the Epicenter Park.

The epicenter of the blast was directly over Urakimi Catholic Church, and portions of the building were preserved there. But off to the right, was a black obelisk that marks the exact center of the detonation.

I remember standing there, in stunned silence. Here was where it happened, I thought.

Hunger won out over any sense of history, and I managed to find my way to McDonalds, and the Nagasaki arcade.

The Nagasaki Peace Park statue.  Photo by me and Photoshop.

A couple of months later, I decided to visit the Peace Park and the museum.

The museum was laid out so that the higher you went, the smaller the scope of the event. On the first floor were displays and information about world politics in 1945. The focus narrowed as I went up. World to nation. Nation to prefecture. Prefecture to city. City to people. On the top floor of the museum was one large room. Six display cases ringed the room. Two of each were dedicated to one person who died in the blast.

In one case, I saw a school notebook of an elementary school student. He had drawn in the margins of his homework just like I did. There were fighter planes and navy ships, and a couple of figures from the neighborhood. Obviously, he did not survive the bomb.

In Isahaya, I met a doctor who refused to speak English because his father was killed in the blast. I met a woman who, as an infant, had been blown from her crib and into the garden by the blast. She had cancer and the US was paying for her medical bills.

I realize that had the United States not dropped the bombs on Japan, about a million people would have died when the allies invaded Japan. But visiting Nagasaki brought a whole new perspective to that knowledge.

Nagasaki Peace Park is built on the site of a POW camp. Both Japanese and Allies died in the bombing. However, the park is a nice memorial to everyone who died that day.

To all my Nagasaki friends: I thinking about you today.


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