Hiroshima #2: Faces

August 23, 2007

My friend Mia, who’s doing a project on Hiroshima, asked me to take lots of pictures of people, and here they are. For most of the pictures I either walked or stood with my camera at waist level so as to be able to snap pictures without being distracting.

And here’s the email I sent her about it: Heya Mia. I just posted a bunch of pics from Hirhoshima for you. It was an amazing experience. The first night there I stayed at a cheap business ryokan which was tended by and ancient old fellow. As I was checking out the next morning to attend the memorial service he confided in me that he was a genbaku gisei-sha, which I didn’t realize until after I was out the door and on the street that that meant atomic bomb survivor…or literally, an “atomic bomb victim”. The whole day was somber but beautiful. It’s one of the highlights of my life. The profound thought that kept occurring to me all day as I was walking around Peace Park was that on this day 62 years ago, directly over my head, an atomic bomb exploded and obliterated an entire city. I kept trying to imagine the explosion, and what it was like that day after it happened. Black rain, shadows burned into stone, the entire city flattened for miles, people wandering around sick, burned, dying of thirst and unable to drink the poisoned water littered with charred corpses floating in what’s now a beautiful river, and then the whole complexity of the situation and the decision behind committing such an atrocity. I’m from the country that did this. My grandfather had the picture and the autograph of the pilot of the Enola Gay hung on his living room wall. Before it seemed like such and abstraction…a giant bomb that destroyed a city and ended the war…something good and necessary that ended up saving more lives in the long run. It’s all a load of bullshit, really. The people of Hiroshima are a truly international people. They’re not Japanese just as the first astronauts to gaze upon the earth from space could no longer be American or Russian or whatever. What they experience puts them beyond the realm of nations and borders and whatnot…


Atomic Bomb Memorial #1

August 22, 2007

I began my two week summer vacation on August 6th in Hiroshima. For those of you who don’t know, at 8:15am on August 6th, 1945 an American B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb ever used as a weapon on the unsuspecting populace of Hiroshima, killing roughly 140,000 people. Every year on this day there is a Memorial Service for which thousands of people from all over the world turn out, and this year I was lucky enough to be one of them. I arrived at the peace park a little after 8am and was too late to witness the actual ceremony, but I was in time to see this march of peaceniks and pigs. This was an interesting sight to start off my day, and I think it had the effect of rattling me up a little bit and made me take the whole ordeal more seriously. It was a very somber day, but beautiful nonetheless, and as the sun went down people began floating paper lanterns inscribed with individual prayers down the river from in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome.