Adventures in Japan – Part 2

 Terry and PJ’s Adventures in Japan – May 2000

Monday, May 22, 2000

Chuck returned to his house and we went on to Hiroshima. We visited Hiroshima Castle. Only one section of the castle was rebuilt after the bomb was dropped during WWII. The foundation remained, so the footprint of the castle walls was still discernable.

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We then walked down to the Hiroshima Peace Park. There were several monuments set up in the park. One of the most moving monuments was for a little girl, Sadako Sasaki who thought she could be cured of the radiation poisoning if she folded enough origami cranes. She folded more than one thousand before she died. Even now, schoolchildren continue to fold cranes for her. They leave the cranes at her monument. There must have been thousands. On Tuesday, we experienced a touching moment when we saw a group of children singing by her monument.

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One of the other park visitors wanted to take Terry’s picture, but he didn’t realize it. He kept trying to get out of her way. Once we realized what was going on, Terry let her take his picture. We thought it was funny that she wanted a stranger’s picture.

The A-Bomb Dome, as it is now called was the most visual of the monuments. It was not restored to remind the world of the devastation.

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15I

 Terry and I also went to find the hypocenter of the bomb. A marker noted the location, along with a picture of the devastation. It was hard to believe that man can carry out such havoc on others. Even though we weren’t alive when WWII occurred, the events still influence us all today. I felt the power of the destruction to my core as tears slid down my cheeks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Tuesday morning, we went to the Peace Museum. The other visitors were not quiet in the museum, as in America. I wondered if it was because they consider the museum to be artifacts, but the monuments outside were the shrines. We do not have any pictures for the museum, since museums do not allow photographs which can damage the exhibits.

While we were there, we spoke to a college student. We asked her why Japan did not surrender after the first atomic bomb was deployed. She thought it was because they were always told that they could win the war. Japan was willing to lose 100 million lives during the war!

We asked her if she had seen the Pearl Harbor memorial. But she had not. In fact, the Pearl Harbor bombing was glossed over at the Peace Museum. It made me angry actually. The United States wasn’t even in the war until Japan attacked us. Through it all, I did get the impression that they learned their lessons about war because they now teach peace in school.

USS Arizona Memorial

The Tuesday that we returned from Hiroshima was the only time we had any real trouble with the mass transit system and the language barrier. We arrived at one train station, and needed to switch to the other to get back to Chuck’s house. However, we were tired and didn’t really know what we needed to do to communicate. So, a trip that should have taken an hour actually required about four hours to get home.

Wednesday, May 24, 2000

The next day we met Chuck for lunch at the ship, which was fun. The other officers teased Chuck a little about actually having friends. They thought it was cool that we came all the way from Florida to visit Chuck. I think they might have been more than a little envious. Terry and I think it made Chuck proud to have friends come that distance to see him.

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After lunch, we went to the travel agent’s office, on the Navy base. We were there for four hours making reservations for northern Japan. Tiffany (our local travel agent), would have killed us if we had tried to do that part while we were here in Florida. It was a challenge, even in Japan, and with bilingual agents.

Thursday, May 25, 2000

Terry and I ventured in to Tokyo. We had to switch trains several times, and we had specific places in mind. So, we had to pay attention in order to get our destinations.

We went to a flea market in Roppongi. We found a doll in a purple kimono for my Mom, and another doll that was the wood nymph character in the musical that we saw in Kyoto. We did not want to try to get the dolls back to Chuck’s house via the trains. So, we went into an antique shop, and they helped us pack the dolls.

Moms Doll

Then, we took the dolls to the Post Office just up the street and shipped them to the USA. We found out later that it could take about two months to receive them. At least the dolls should be in one piece once they arrive home, which could not be guaranteed on the crowded rush hour trains, or in our luggage. Sadly, my mom’s doll did not make it home in time before she passed of ovarian cancer.

Wood Nymph

We also bought a used kimono and obi (sash). The kimono is white and the obi is peach. Even though they weren’t paired together originally, they were very pretty. I am taller than the former owner, so the kimono doesn’t reach all the way to my feet, the way that it probably did for the former owner. We later found out that the white kimono was a very beautiful undergarment.

To be continued…

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