On the 6th of August 1945, the atomic bomb was dropped over central Hiroshima city. Amidst all our adventures, it becomes easy to forget that this is the reason we are here. During the past two days, the city of Hiroshima has displayed an exceptional spirit of solidarity – trying to remember the victims killed by the A-bomb – as well as to spread the message of peace to the rest of the world.
The people of Hiroshima have also shown that not only is this a time for locals to come together and remember the day of the bomb, but it is also a time to convey an understanding to others of what happened that day. Mr. Keijiro Matsushima, one of the survivors of the A-bomb (a group called Hibakusha), told us the story about his life in Hiroshima and that fateful day when the place he called home was obliterated. Needless to say, this was an incredibly unique experience that will remain in the memories of all participants. We were impressed by Mr. Matsushima’s gentle manners and lack of resentment, as well as his candid account of the misery caused by the bomb.
Following Mr. Matsushima’s speech, the next day demanded an early awakening for all of us, as we got up to participate in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. Speeches from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the mayor, UN representatives and the Children’s Representatives were coupled with the release of peace doves and the dramatic sound of the Hiroshima Peace song performed by a children’s choir and orchestra.
On a happier note, the day carried on the island of Miyajima. In the intense heat, we strolled amongst the wild deer, walked through a Samurai temple, and snapped an abundance of pictures of the Itsukushima Shrine.
That, however, would turn out to be nothing in comparison to the amount of photos produced during the Lantern Ceremony later that night. It is held annually to remember the victims of the A-bomb. As the sun set on the river running through central Hiroshima, hundreds and hundreds of lanterns were lit, shining against the backdrop of the A-bomb Dome (one of very few buildings that actually remained after the attack).