Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Range of Emotions in Hiroshima

Hiroshima is most famous, of course, for being the place where the first atomic bomb was dropped. And so our first destination on Wednesday was to visit the Peace Park and Peace Memorial Museum.

I prepped Kai that he needed to be on his best behavior. The museum would be a serious and solemn place and it would be inappropriate to goof around and laugh. He needed to be respectful. He said he understood, but I wasn’t sure if he would be able to follow through.

At 8AM, we walked over to the Peace Park from our hotel. We first saw the display of origami cranes, a symbol for peace, made by the school children that visit. There were literally thousands of them, many formed together into beautiful designs.

We walked through the Peace Park.

And then we entered the museum.

The museum presented a history of the events that lead up to World War II and the subsequent decision to use the atomic bomb on Japan. There were photographs showing the city before and after the bomb was dropped. And there were numerous photos and artifacts that illustrated the devastation, suffering, and after effects.

Here is a photo of a clock that stopped when the bomb exploded:

Kai took his time to look at and read many of the exhibits.

Here is a photo of Hiroshima shortly after the bombed was dropped.

We saw a display of how the city stood before the bomb…

and after.

Here is a display of the burns people suffered and some artifacts of clothing from victims.

Kai took it all in very seriously.

At one point, he got very upset and came up to his mother. “My country did an evil thing!” And “whoever did this should be punished!”

My wife told him that Japan did a lot of bad things, too, especially to China and Korea. But it’s hard to explain to a boy who sees everything in black and white all the nuances and arguments that go into a decision to use a weapon like the atomic bomb.

I was happy, though, that he was very respectful in the museum, and hopeful that he learned a lot there that will stay with him.

After the museum, we walked over to get a closer look at the A-bomb Dome, one of the few buildings in Hiroshima that remained upright after the explosion.

And then we took a 40-minute streetcar ride over toward Miyajima Island. Kai took the opportunity to take a nap.

After catching the ferry, we were on the island. There are many deer on the island that come right up to people. Here’s one with my older nephew.

We coaxed Kai to come up to one, too.

Later, as we were walking, a deer came right up to my wife and started to eat the plastic bag she was carrying. Kai thought that was very funny.

Then it was time for lunch. We found a nice spot that had good seafood. We ordered three dishes just for Kai: grilled oysters on the half shell, shrimp tempura, and octopus tempura.

Yes, all of the food you see in the above photo was just for Kai and he ate nearly all of it up himself.

I had the fried oyster set which came with soup, small pieces of chicken, and rice.

Miyajima is most famous for the torii gate that is in the water.

It was another scorching hot day, so when we came to a shrine, Kai cooled himself off with water you are supposed to purify yourself with.

On hot days like this, we always carry lots of water. Japan is great, though, because there are vending machines selling water and other cold drinks on every corner.

We also try to stay in the shade as much as possible.

Here is a picture of the torii gate taken from the shrine.

Kai loves trying to shake out a good fortune at every shrine we visit.

And then we took the Miyajima Ropeway to the top of Mount Misen.

It was an amazing view as we could see Hiroshima along with many small islands all around.

When we came back down, it was low tide.

We went back to our hotel and had time for only a very quick shower and then we were off to a baseball game.

Before we left home, my father-in-law let us know that he could get tickets to see the Hiroshima Carp if we were interested. My older nephew and I, especially, are big baseball fans so we jumped at the chance to see a game in Japan.

Our big concern, though, was how long Kai would tolerate a baseball game.

We had never taken him to a baseball game before. He’s not much of a sports fan and mostly does not show much interest on the rare occasions when I have a game on tv. Last summer we tried taking him to the horse race track thinking that the short races and all the numbers would hold his attention. But he wanted to leave after only one race.

I soon learned that the experience of going to a baseball game in Japan is nothing like that in America. The atmosphere is much more akin to a major college football game than to an MLB game in the States. There is a band. The vast majority of people were decked out in the red and white colors of the home team. There was organized cheering for every Carp batter. And the crowd was loud. Very loud. The atmosphere on each pitch resembled what you usually only find in a tense moment in an American playoff game.

The noise did not bother Kai at all. In fact, he got into it very much, cheering for the Carp along with everyone else.

We got food. Most of my family got hot dogs. My older nephew got a Philly Cheese Steak that was heavy on cheese and light on Philly. I had the yakitori.

My nephew and I got jerseys of the Carp’s best player.

The game was very exciting, but I was most thrilled that Kai was having such a great time.

We picked a good night to go. It was Peace Night. Everyone was given a green poster upon entering the park, and at a couple points we all held them up while John Lennon’s Imagine played.

I was wondering what the 7th Inning Stretch would be like. Everyone in the stands blew up long, red balloons.

I don’t know where they all got the balloons as we did not receive them but everyone else had one. As Kai got upset that he did not have one, a woman sitting next to us leaned over and handed hers to him.

It was quite a sight when the song stopped playing and everyone released their balloons all together. The photo below was taken a few moments later and doesn’t quite capture the look of all the balloons in the air at once.

The Carp won the game 9-2. It was one of the most fun sporting events I had ever experienced. Kai said he loves baseball now. Well, I think he loves Japanese baseball. I don’t know that I’ll be taking him to a Cubs game anytime soon.

And so this was a quite a day. From the solemn reminder of the atomic bomb devastation to the joyous exhilaration of the baseball game. It may be one of my favorite days on a vacation filled with good ones.


  1. Lots of great pictures. I would have done the same as Kai with the water :)

    The fans are what makes the game of baseball fun to watch in person. It must have been a great experience for a sports fan. However, I think it has ruined the lesser experience of American baseball for you :)

    Personally, I would only go to a sports event in Japan. Everyone is decent during the activity. The game must have felt so energetic. It was so good Kai got to experience this. I knew you had a great time by the big smile on your face :)

    1. I didn't initially stop Kai from pouring the water on his head as I could fully relate to him wanting to cool off. But after about 8 or 9 scoopfuls, we finally told him that was enough.

      Haha, I think I will always think of that game in Hiroshima every time I go to a game in America, and I doubt the US version will ever live to that. :)

  2. You certainly had a variety of events there! Wow! And the photos at the end are beautiful like postcards! So glad the Carps won and you had a good time. That may have ruined baseball games here for you forever! hahaha...

    1. Thanks, Betsy. It was a very eventful day.

      Haha, I think American baseball will never quite live up to my experience in Hiroshima. :)


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