CIEE took us on a great excursion to Hiroshima. I knew this trip was going to be fun, but I had no idea what to expect when we arrived in the city. As the world knows, this city was the first to see the aftermath of a nuclear attack and the story it holds is one everyone needs to hear.
To get to Hiroshima, CIEE booked us on a Shinkasen, or “bullet train.” We rode the Nozomi, which is the fastest model in Japan, reaching speeds of 186 mph (300km/h)! It was a very comfy and fast ride; an experience that was fun to have! Upon our arrival that night in Hiroshima, I was pleasantly surprised. The progress this city has made in the past seventy years was absolutely amazing to see and really impressed me. You would have never even known that the city had such a tragedy befall it just by looking at it. Truly awe inspiring. Since we went in December, the city’s streets were illuminated by Christmas lights and we all thoroughly enjoyed them as we made our way to the hotel to retire for the night.
The next morning was probably one of the most eye opening experiences I have had. After we all met in the lobby, we made out way over to the Peace Memorial Museum. We first walked through the exhibits simply showing what Hiroshima went through when it was bombed. It was very moving. At first I was interested in just the historical facts. As I went further and further in, though, my mindset began to change. I don’t want to give anything away for those of you whom may visit this museum, but they do not pull any punches. They serve what they have to you raw and I’m very glad that they do. It was wave after wave of emotion as I walked down the halls; as an American, I felt both sympathy and sadness. The museum is a great reminder for all of us of what man is capable of- both the good and the bad.
When you finish walking through all the exhibits, right before the exit, you are greeted by some notebooks. There is a sign that asks you to stop and read them along with adding your personal thoughts about everything you just soaked in. It was a privilege to be able to contribute to them, and being able to go back and read other people’s thoughts was a treat. It was amazing to see the responses and I’m glad the museum set out books like these to keep track of visitors’ emotions. It really helped me to further reflect on what I just saw.
The rest of the day we had the opportunity to listen to an A-bomb survivor, listen to a presentation about what exactly nuclear weapons are and where they come from, and had a guided tour around Peace Park. It was an amazing time for reflection, and the park is a beautiful place to do a bit of soul searching as well. I highly recommend making time for Hiroshima if you ever visit Japan. The city inspires me and shows me that with hope, anything can be rebuilt and strengthened.