Remembering Hiroshima

6th August 1945. A clear cloudless morning in Hiroshima meant its doom. Only four Japanese cities were not yet devastated in World War II – Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, and Nagasaki, and these were the places where the effects of the atomic bomb could be best evaluated.

This morning, as is done every year, about 50,000 people stood for a minute of silence in Hiroshima’s Peace Park, located near the epicentre of the world’s first atomic bombing on 6th August 1945, 8:15 a.m. Nagasaki is the only other city to have ever been hit by an atomic bomb (on 9th August 1945). In the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) today, a very noisy afternoon session began with a minute’s silence for Hiroshima (and for Kerala flood victims).

The Hiroshima Peace Declaration 2013, from the Mayor of Hiroshima, can be read here.

I had read about ‘Little Boy’ and Hiroshima during my school days. In November 2012, my family (along with the grandparents) got to see the irreversible effects of the atomic bomb and how the city of Hiroshima has risen from the ashes of that fateful day. Makes you wonder if the risks of atomic / nuclear energy are worth any of the benefits it offers.

Atom Bomb Dome (Gembaku Domu), one of the two buildings that survived the atomic bomb on 6th August 1945. The other building was a school.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum vividly portrays and describes everything that happened in Hiroshima before, during and in the years after the bombing. A group of volunteers, campaigning against nuclear energy, is always around and one of them will willingly take you around the museum to give you the Hiroshima perspective. A whole corner of the museum is dedicated to letters written by the Mayor of Hiroshima to the head of state of every country each time anything “nuclear” is done. There were about 600 letters, including one written to Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee, after the Pokran test.

The harsh reminders of the atomic bomb are prominent in Hiroshima, but these apart, the city is one of the most enjoyable places to visit. More people here seem to know English. Walking is a great way to move around this relatively small city. By Japanese standards, in our experience, it is one of the economical ones too.

Glimpses of Hiroshima, November 2012

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