As a musician in the US Army Band Japan (decades ago) I was very lucky to travel throughout the country on a regular basis; visiting some of the same cities and venues every year. One of my favorite cities was Kure, known for its port that supports the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, located just a bit southeast of Hiroshima. Now, as a teacher with Smith’s School of English, this extended spring break has provided me the opportunity to return and see what has changed in the past thirty years. I found a lot of good, and unfortunately some disappointment.
Upon arrival to Hiroshima Station I walked into a happy celebration. Red shirts, happy people, young and old, supporting a win for their baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp. They take baseball and their team seriously. It was a pleasing bit of culture shock for me.
The next day I traveled to the island of Miyajima to relive that experience. It was a beautiful day and I remembered it just as it was then. The ferry ride in was nostalgic, as well as spending a few hours walking, observing, and eating fresh oysters!
The following day I traveled to my beloved Kure City with a plan to stay for a few days. Unfortunately, what used to be a vibrant city loaded with so many small businesses looks to be in decline. It seems to have become a “bed town” – a thirty minute train ride to Hiroshima provides for a cheaper place to live. I was a bit disappointed with the lack of small businesses these days, but I am sure it will revitalize in the future.
So I decided to return to Hiroshima a day early and luckily landed a hotel in the center of the city next to Peace Memorial Park. I had no intention of revisiting the place, but since I was in the vicinity, I decided to take a walk through.The last time I was there, I was 20 years old, young and naive. This time was dramatically different. I walked slowly through, wondering how and why such a tragedy could happen. Arriving at the memorial in the center of the park there was a large group of high school children singing songs of peace.Have a quick look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn2rjgOG6cU It was very moving and I was glad I made the decision to return. No resentment among the people; the park is all about peace. Let the World live in peace.
I would recommend anyone visiting or living in Japan to go to Hiroshima. It is an amazingly beautiful city, a mix of old and new, cable cars still running in the middle of the streets, delicious food to include Hiroshima-yaki, and oh the oysters! Most of all though, friendly people, not a stressful city at all. It seems to move along at a pace of its own compared the bigger cities. Japan is a wonderful place to be. Never done learning here.