Atomic Bomb Dome | NEX-7 & SEL24F18Z| 24mm, f/5, 1/400s, ISO100, RAW
The infamous and unmistakable Atomic Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム ; genbaku dōmu) in Hiroshima. I am polarised by its existence. One the one hand, I see the dome standing there, more than 50 years since the entirety of Hiroshima was flattened, burned, and destroyed by the world's first human-test of atomic weaponry. Except for this dome-topped building. I imagine Little Boy (the bomb), being dropped from the Enola Gay(the aeroplane), above the Aioi Bridge (the target). I imagine the pilot of the aircraft, banking off to the side. I imagine the aircraft behind, with its scientific equipment. I imagine the third aircraft, with its photographers pressed against each window. Then I imagine some 43 seconds later, at an altitude of around 600m, when the hollow uranium bullet was fired at its target brethren. I imagine the enormous fireball, some 4000°C at its surface. A mini Sun. I imagine the x-rays, gamma-rays, and intense light rays, spreading out at the speed of light, to the unknowing people below. People were burned to ashes instantly, others blasted by the sheer force of the strong blast. Buildings were flattened and decimated. Bombs are indiscriminate. Men, women, and children, burned by the radiation, fires, bleeding profusely and scrambling for safety. But there was no safety. The bomb was a resounding success. This result had shown that the colossal $2Bn USD (about $26 billion in 2013 dollars) spent on the Manhattan Project was "justified". The US had this power, and Russia should take note. The world should take note.
The other half of me walks around the Hiroshima Peace Park, camera in hand, taking in the beautiful weather, wide open spaces, pretty flowers, happy children, and the peace. Without the bomb, who knows what Hiroshima, or Japan for that matter, would look like in 2013. Who knows what the state of the world would be, should WWII have ended just slightly differently?
The Peace Monument has a line of people with cameras in hand, or possibly flowers, patiently waiting to take their turn. Hardly anyone is talking. There's a very sombre atmosphere, but it's all very calming. Looking through the monument (stooping down, if you're me), we have a clear line of site to the Bomb Dome, beyond a flame which burns night and day in memory of the victims.
The area surrounding the Bomb Dome is known as Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and it's quite simply, lovely. It's extremely peaceful to stroll by the river, through the tree-lined walkways. Most of the area is pedestrianised, but where cars are permitted, they trundle by at a leisurely pace. There are hundreds of school children, taking part in school trips. They're all very chatty, saying "hello" and being surprised when we reply in Japanese. They're expecting all foreigners to be tourists, and though we are in some respect, they don't expect us to have an apartment in Tokyo, and to speak Japanese.
Everywhere is exceptionally clean, though we've become used to such things in Japan. Hardly any litter to speak of, just petals blowing gently down the street. We walked right up to the dome, by which point the sun was setting. We were in no rush. The peace and tranquility of the area resulted in a loss of urgency. An ideal way to start a holiday!
I recommend all visitors to Japan, to visit Hiroshima. There's far more to see than just the Bomb Dome, but I implore you to visit. Visit the museum. Understand why any country in possession of nuclear weapons is a threat to our entire existence.
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