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Nagasaki and the Atomic Bomb


Today’s plan was to see the atomic bomb stuff, so about 9:33 I was out the door and walking. There is a street car I could take, and even buses, but with Hiroshima, I found that things were so close, why bother? Nagasaki is pretty long, and while I could walk, people in a hurry would be better taking the trams.


However, I did get a chance to see a lot. Most of the A-bomb stuff is towards the north, and my hostel (Akari) is in the south. I suppose nothing really jumped out, but I enjoyed the walk. It wasn’t too cold.


Arriving at the A-bomb stuff, my first objective was to tour the museum “proper.” I think my overall impression is that Hiroshima is better. There’s more English, and things are covered more completely in Hiroshima. My first impression in fact was that the museum here was just shoved into a basement. Once through the ticket gate though, my impression changed. Nagasaki has this powerful intensity bordering on anger, where as Hiroshima has a quiet force that moves you.


You are almost blown away by the exhibit here before you even start! The first thing you see is a very old photo, blown up to wall size, along with some words. No photos were allowed, and I didn’t write it down, but it went something like,


“Nagasaki, where . . . . .

Nagasaki, where cultures came together.

Nagasaki, where students came for learning.

Nagasaki, where the shadow of war came over it.

Nagasaki, where. . . “


I could imagine someone reading this, with their voice rising towards the end. Something even more powerful was the sound of a clock ticking. You turned to the right, where a narrow hallway went on for just a few more feet. Pictures of Nagasaki could be seen. The clock could still be heard. A very loud ticking it was. Then you turned again and were faced with TV’s showing a mushroom cloud. On the opposite wall was a smashed clock. The display was quite large, and clock was not so big, so there was lots of empty space. The TV’s were reflected in the glass though, so you are aware the ticking has stopped, you have this smashed clock and the mushroom clouds all in your senses. You turn again and enter a medium sized hall.


To your right and left, smashed and twisted steel. At the far wall, a recreated wall of the Urakami Cathedral. Along the floor runs a railing or barrier of sorts with TV’s showing charred bodies and more destruction. It wasn’t overly grotesque, but it was quite a sight. Quite a contrast to Hiroshima where you first got a history lesson about Hiroshima before seeing the exhibits with the destruction.


Once out of the hall, the museum had many of the exhibits that Hiroshima did, but they felt smaller, and less complete. I’m going to say that aside from the initial halls, Nagasaki just didn’t match Hiroshima’s museum.



I next went over to a small museum about Culture and folklore. It was free, and I’m glad of it. English was minimal so I didn’t get most of the exhibits.


My next stop was the Memorial Hall. This was well done I think. Both of the museums (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) made repeated comments about how the victims wanted water. This Memorial hall was mostly underground. You started by walking around a basin filled with water, overflowing over the edge. Even when you went into the halls, which were almost maze like at times, you could almost always hear water flowing. The only thing I had a slight problem with was the suggested route was almost forced upon you by a guard (more on him later) who was guarding the main hall. In this hall, one could find the names of a large number of the victims written in books, locked away in a column (see photos for more on this.)


I next wandered over to the peace park, and some other statue areas. One of the first statues I saw was of a girl holding a pigeon or dove. For some reason this statue held my attention. I took quite a few photos of it, but none of them quite captured the look of the statue that I could see. I even returned later to try some more.


I saw the Hypo center area and headed over to Urakami Cathedral which was rebuilt. Not that much to see, except for several statues which had survived the bombing (this church was very close to the hypo center) Interestingly enough, when they were built, the priest had wanted them to be very sad looking. Now, slightly damaged, the sad look is quite fitting.


I wandered back over to the statues and the museum to wait for the sun to go down. The Memorial hall’s water basin has a bunch of fiber optic lights which represent some 70,000 people who died in the blast (I can’t remember if there are 70,000 lights, but I think there were probably far fewer, each light standing for a certain number of people.) I wanted a photo of these lights. The before mentioned guard didn’t kick me out even though the place was past closing time. He finally asked me to leave, about 45 minutes after closing time. I figure he has to stay there all night anyway, but it was nice of him.


I walked back to the hostel, and it would have been uneventful except a 70 year old man contacted me and asked where I was from and such questions. He went on to say that he was 7 at the time of the blast and he was outside the city, but his father was in the city. His father died about 20 years after the blast from leukemia. This man said that he was glad the US and Japan had such a good relationship as it had allowed Japan to prosper. He continued by saying that he didn’t hate the US, but he did hate nuclear bombs and war. He was clearly out walking or jogging and he left me after a bit. I finished up with a few more photos and went back to the hostel.



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