My second day in Nagasaki was spent touring what Nagasaki is REALLY famous for, the second Atomic bomb.
Our day started by taking the tram to the Peace Park. This was a very somber experience. The park stands as a memorial to the victims of the atomic bomb and as a reminder for the necessity of world peace. It was said that nothing would grow in the damaged areas for 75 years because of lasting radiation. The peace park also stands as a testament to the will of the Japanese people to rebuild and “blossom” once again. Cherry blossoms have flourished in the park.
On the left side of the park, there is a statue to mark the hypocenter of the blast. It is a large black stone with stone rings rippling out. Again, this is a tragic place to visit. Even if you believe the bomb was justified, it’s still very sad.
Towards the center of the park, there is a statue dedicated to the children who died. Most of the bomb’s casualties were women, children, and the elderly.
At the exit of the park lies a piece of Urakami Cathedral. Burns scar the brick wall, and you can even see where the heat blast bubbled the surface of the concrete. According to some of the plaques that lie scattered throughout the park, the a-bomb exploded 500 meters above this Catholic Church. How ANY of this church survived the blast is a miracle. Ironic, no?
The 2nd part of the Peace Park has some shrines in memorial of the victims of the a-bomb. It has the “peace statue.” It is GIGANTIC. Check it out:
It was near one of the shrines where I met an a-bomb survivor! I was in shock. He had a paper with his story written on it. I had thought that it was just some random story of a victim. Then he told us that it was HIS STORY. Apparently, he was working for the Mitsubishi arms factory when his supervisor told him to go fetch some supplies. That was when the bomb exploded. A nearby bridge had taken most of the blast and he escaped with minor injuries. His left arm was broken in many places and his eardrums had burst. He told us that he couldn’t re-grow his hair for 3 years following the blast. It was absolutely surreal to meet a survivor.
After the Peace Park, Banshee and I visited Nyoko-do. Nyoko-do was the name given to the small bungalow of Dr. Nagai. Dr. Nagai was a pioneer of x-ray technology and a survivor of the atomic bomb. He is remembered in Nagasaki because, even after suffering a brain aneurism following the blast, he still rushed to the hospital to treat other victims.
From his years of working with primitive x-ray machines and his refusal to “get out of Dodge,” Dr. Nagai developed Leukemia. He gave himself 3 years to live, but miraculously lived another 6. Though he was bed-ridden for most of his remaining years, he managed to write many books detailing the effects of the atomic bomb, both physically and morally. Dr. Nagai was a devout Catholic and truly a remarkable man. This is a quote from one of his books:
For lunch, I ate one of Nagasaki’s famed dishes, Toruko Rice (literally: Turkish rice). It is tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) over a bed of yellow rice and spaghetti. It really is an eclectic dish, but oh so delicious!
I needed to eat a lot to regain my strength. Next up was the atomic bomb museum…
I rented the audio tour to supplement my journey through the museum. Everything is provided in English as well anyway, but the audio tour still helped.
The a-bomb museum is built like a timeline. The opening exhibit is a display of what Nagasaki looked like before the bomb. There were pictures of daily life and small explanations describing the pictures. The next exhibit was a video of the bomb detonating. This was the segue into the REAL museum.
After the video, we were guided into a room that looked like a scene immediately following the bomb. There were electric poles bent and wires spraying light. The walls were painted with colors like red and orange. The room was meant to simulate the look of Nagasaki. This room highlighted the major damage from the blast including heat scars, crumbled buildings, and other deformed infrastructure. The next room highlighted the aftereffects of the bomb. Artifacts had been collected and their story was told on small plaques. For example, burnt lunch boxes, jewelry, and clothing were on display. They even had a life size model of the bomb.
Because I moved through the museum faster than my travel buddy, I took some time out to watch video testimonials of survivors available in the next exhibit. It was heartbreaking. I watched about 4 of them before moving on to the final exhibit. The last part of the museum is an infographic about the need for nuclear arms to be abolished. It highlighted how many nuclear weapons exist in the world and what organizations are working towards halting nuclear proliferation.
To cheer up after the long, emotional day, I ate ice cream. Phew…