Before the end of 2011, I decided to visit the one place in Japan which occupies the top spot of on my list- Hiroshima. As the first city in the world to experience the wrath of nuclear bombing, not only that I wanted to learn the details of the events but I wanted to see how the city and the life of its occupants are these days, when every place in Japan seems to move fast ahead of time. I’m intrigued.
Assuming that you don’t know about the history of Hiroshima, I am pretty sure that your first impression on the city will be “just another typical town in Japan with enough Pachinko Slot and Karaoke Rooms for an after work stress reliever”. The only quantifiable traces of its tumultuous past are the monuments and museums located at the Peace Memorial Park.
This might be a silly observation or senseless perhaps, but compare to Kyoto where most of the people on the streets are of grandpa’s age, it seems to me that majority of the people in Hiroshima are inclining towards a younger age. Maybe I am just spending a bit more time at Hondori Shopping Street where the teenagers are dressed fashionably enough to compete with those roaming around in Shibuya or Harajuku.
Another place of interest for visitors is the Hiroshima Castle or often called as Carp Castle. Like the rest of the city, this one is just re-construction of the 1589 original. With an entrance fee of 360 yen, the topmost part will allow you to view the city in 360 degrees manner. You will be surprised how beautiful the city is, as if it has always been that way ever since and was never touched by the nuclear bomb.
Not to far from the castle is Shukkien Garden. Constructed during the Meiji period, right after the completion of the castle, the garden represents valleys, mountains and forests on its landscape. Though it is not big as the gyoen’s in Tokyo, I think Shukkien Garden is relaxing enough for those townies who wanted some quiet time. Like Hiroshima Castle, most of the parts in garden where reconstructed after the bombing.
There are few reminders of the bombing scattered in the city if you look close enough. Like the trees along the roads that will never, ever grew any leaves or an old picture besides the bridge showing how it looks after the attack. The city of Hiroshima is a beautiful, peaceful town. I think it is geographically blessed in such a unique way where the land are separated and cut by several rivers in parallel.
Hiroshima and its people is a living proof that life is possible on places spoiled by the nuclear emission or whatever unfathomable tragedy. Just imagine how the people rebuilt an ashen city into a prosperous one, where most of the reconstruction started during 1950’s when technology is not so advance to clean up all the mess caused by the bombing. I say a city is built by the people breathing on it and not the other way around.
I can only conclude that if you give the people of Fukushima/Sendai enough time, they will do recover just as the same.