A Visit to the Peace Memorial Museum In Hiroshima

5th of August, 2016

After a night of barely sleeping at all, maybe because of the heat, or simply because of the excitement about being in Japan, I wake up at six in order to go to Hiroshima City with the rest of the INU students and staff. We are staying in Higashi-Hiroshima, a small town located east of Hiroshima city and the bus ride takes about an hour. A lucky few are able to sleep almost the entire trip, while I tiredly stare out the window, allowing my gaze to scan all the mountains and forests that we pass on our way.

When we finally arrive in Hiroshima City, at the Peace Memorial Museum, it is a herd of tired and confused people trying to navigate the site in search of answers to where we are supposed to go. Someone who looks like they know what they are doing wave us in one direction, and we do as we are told, ending up at the entrance to the museum. Inside the museum we are handed leaflets and audio guides before we make our way to the exhibition.

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The A-Bomb Dome

Not quite knowing what to expect I enter the exhibition, and the first thing I see is a life-size model of three persons, all of them with loose skin hanging from their dirty bodies, clothes ripped, and all wearing an expression of extreme pain. Horrifying. Even though I have read a lot about the effects of the atomic bomb, and how the burns from the radiation heat would melt the skin of the human body, having it visualised in front of me makes everything I’ve read feel extremely real.

The museum is filled with stories from survivors and unfortunate victims of the bombing, personal belongings have been donated by survivors and relatives, and they are all accompanied by a description of the person who it belonged to, their full name, age, and occupation followed with what happened to them after the bombing. The statistics, 150 000 dead, become real and the numbers turn into individuals as I walk through the exhibition. People with lives just like ours. People who went to school or work on the morning of the bomb, people who never returned home, some who just disappeared on that day, never to be seen again, perished in the flames.

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The Children’s Peace Monument

It’s overwhelming and shocking. There is a lot to process and all the small details of personal lives hit hard. One of the most heartbreaking displays is a collection of small paper cranes, folded by Sadako Sasaki, a girl who survived the atomic bombing at the age of two, but later suffered from leukaemia due to the radiation. She folded 1000 paper cranes, and, as per tradition, wished to be cured, but died in the hospital. She became the inspiration and model for The Children’s Peace Monument, a monument to commemorate the thousands of child victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

We move on from the museum to a hall where we get to listen to Keiko Ogura, a survivor of the bombing, or Hibakusha as they are called in Japan. She was eight years old when the bomb fell and her stories about the fear, the bomb, the fire, and the cremation of often unidentified bodies is hard to listen to, but it is very important that it is heard. She doesn’t only talk about what happened in August 1945, but continues to talk about how it is today, what it means to have been a person who was in Hiroshima. How it is to feel like you need to hide who you are because people are scared that there is something wrong with you because of the radiation that spread all across Hiroshima on the day of the bombing.

And she talks about the silence. The silence that had somehow become the norm amongst survivors, to not talk about what happened because of the guilt. The guilt of having survived something so horrible while others suffered immensely before they died. The guilt of being alive while others perished in the flames of Hiroshima, of having lived all this time while others disappeared. 

Despite the horrors faced by the Hibakusha, Keiko Ogura talks about the hope for the future, and about forgiveness. She asks us all to bring this story to our families and friends, share it, and help make sure that something similar will never happen again. That no one should have to suffer like they have, and that the most important aim to prevent this is to abolish the use and creation of nuclear weapons. Despite everything she has been through, she still believes in a future free from war and nuclear weapons, and if that isn’t one of the most inspiring acts of forgiveness and hope I don’t know what is.

A view of Hiroshima City

A view of Hiroshima City

/ Kajsa

Summary of INU Student Seminar

Hej hej hallå!

Back in Sweden after 12 days in beautiful Japan! My name is Ida, I’m a political science student at Malmö University and I had the opportunity to attend the INU Student Seminar for Global Citizenship and Peace in Hiroshima this august.

The days in Japan were full of great experiences and the schedule was packed. Besides the academic part of the seminar, which included interesting workshops, lectures and a UN Role Play, we also did some cultural activities. Since the seminar took place on the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima we had the privilege to attend the Peace Memorial Ceremony. It was certainly a moving ceremony and I’m really grateful for the chance to witness it.

Throughout the whole seminar we had UN role play preparations and were divided into different country groups. My country group was Cuba and the task was to write and present an amendment to a UN Resolution on Gender, Peace and Security. There was a lot of negotiations and discussions amongst the countries to persuade the others to vote in favor on one’s own amendment.

Thus, the last day everybody was quite nervous about their amendments and the outcome of the Roleplay. But it was a lot of fun and all the countries played their parts really well and the Role Play turned out to be a very exciting event! Cuba’s amendment passed and we celebrated with our cheering ”Hasta la victoria siempre!”

After the Role Play we had a diploma ceremony with all the students and professors and later on we had a farewell dinner. The dinner was well deserved and it was great to be able to relax some after a very intense and exciting week. It was also a bit emotional and sad to know that it probably would be the last evening all of us would spend together in Japan. When you spend a lot of time together in a short period and with such great people it’s hard not to get a little bit emotional when it’s time to say good bye.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island

Presenting Cuba's amendement at the UN Role Play

Presenting Cuba’s amendment at the UN Role Play

Diploma Ceremony

Diploma Ceremony

For me, the best part of the seminar was to get to know students from all over the world, to have great discussions and get more perspectives on gender, peace and security. The INU Seminar is truly a great opportunity and I can recommend everyone to apply for next year’s Seminar. I learned so much during my time in Hiroshima and I’m so grateful for the possibility to attend. Don’t forget to apply for next year’s seminar!

Ida

INU Summer School – Wednesday August 5th

After our introductory lecture on global citizenship and peace on Tuesday we continued right away on Wednesday with the first seminar day. In the morning we started with an interactive session on the topic Global Governance and International Policy, which left much room for own reflections, the development of visions and group work. In the afternoon three of our group, including Ellinor, presented their papers in a first mock-conference session. These sessions provided a space in which peer reviews were presented to the authors of the different papers, in order to discuss strengths, possibilities for improvements and contents of the papers.

nora_ellinor

In the evening we met the approximately 150 students from the other courses – the Undergraduate Student Seminar on Global Citizenship and Peace, the Summer School for Environmental Studies, and the INU Nursing Workshop. food

During the welcome reception the INU staff treated us with warm welcoming words, delicious Japanese food and sake. A great opportunity to get to know people from our group better and to meet all the others.

8 Days at Hiroshima University – INU Master’s Summer School on Global Citizenship and Peace

Even though we, Ellinor and Nora, did not find the time to post while we were in Japan, we would still like to share our experiences and impressions of those intense and amazing days we spent in Hiroshima University.

Tuesday, August 4th

Our first day at the INU Master’s Summer School for Global Citizenship and Peace. Before we had our first lecture we had a campus tour of Hiroshima University. It is the third largest campus in Hiroshima and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.

campus hiroshima

Afterwards the first lecture started with the topic of Global Citizenship. We are 13 students from different countries that are participating in the course. A variety of different academic backgrounds are represented which really spurs interesting discussions. During dinner in the evening we had a “eat with chopstick”-workshop for those of us who couldn’t do it.chopsticks

Arigato Malmö University!

After five great days in Tokyo with Lea, a peace and conflict student from Malmö University and also a participant at this years INU seminar, I am back in Malmö, Sweden. Tokyo was a contrast to the calm and authentic feeling I got from Hiroshima, which is why I am very happy that the seminar was held in Hiroshima and that I also got the chance to visit Tokyo afterwards. I got to experience Japan in two different ways, which has made me feel that I most definitely want to visit Japan again – two weeks were not enough to explore this friendly and beautiful country!

I have had such an amazing experience in Japan and I am honored to have been selected by Malmö University as a participant at the INU 2013 seminar and funded by Hiroshima University. I am aware that this post might sound a bit cliche, but every word is sincere. I have learnt a lot about myself regarding how I function in group work and discussions, how language barriers can be overcome and how interesting it is to meet students from different countries and academic backgrounds and listen to their view about issues related to sustainable development, migration and many other topics. Meeting the other students from Malmö University was also as interesting as meeting other international students, since I probably wouldn’t have met them otherwise.

I would highly recommend every student at MU to submit an application for next years seminar. This is a great opportunity for personal, social and academic development. It is also a way for the students attending the seminar to be a representative for their home university, which strengthens the image of MU and hopefully attracts international students.

For students longing to go abroad during their education MU has several opportunities – you can go on an exchange semester, do your internship abroad, write your thesis as an MFS and, of course, go on a “summer school”, such as the one I have been to this summer in Japan. All the information about these great opportunities can be found here http://www.mah.se/studyabroad/

Besides the cultural exchange and academically challenging aspect of INU, I have had so much fun during this trip, which resulted in me crying and laughing at the same time almost every day. Also, and this is the most cliche part about this blog post, you never regret the things you have done, only the things you did not do. Therefore – make sure to send in an application for next years INU seminar!

Finally, here are a few of the almost 700 pictures I took during my two weeks in Japan. Enjoy!
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/Nadja