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This is a collection of my blog entries related to short or long trips I, or Jennifer and I went on.
I have some master pages for some specific locations/trips:

Paris over many years | Australia over many years | Canada over many years | Japan over multiple trips | Italy in 2011 | France in 2013 | Indonesia in 2013 | Japan in 2013 | Japan in 2014 | Taiwan in 2014 | Indonesia in 2014 | New Zealand in 2015 | Japan in 2015 | Costa Rica in 2015 | Singapore in 2016 | South Korea in 2016 | Japan in 2016 |

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2016/07/23 Japan Day 12: Okayama and Hiroshima
π 2016-07-23 00:00 in Japan, Japan2016, Trips

After a good night in Okayama, we went to Korakuen, part of the top 3 best parks in Japan, and its adjacent castle, because... well... it was there :) The castle looks nice from outside, but the inside isn't essential. Still, we went in since we were there:




lot of hungry koi fish :)
lot of hungry koi fish :)







Then, we crossed the bridge to go to the castle, which had a helpful "no pictures inside" policy :(





From there, we went back to the train station to catch a Sakura train to Hiroshima. For a change, we didn't have to take a Nozomi we weren't supposed to be on as the Sakura was almost as fast and only got us there 10mn later, If the JR pass worked like this all the time, it wouldn't be as bad (but on multiple trips it would have caused us 1h delays and that's not ok)

sadly we didn't get to ride this train
sadly we didn't get to ride this train

After dropping our stuff at the hotel, we went directly to the Hiroshima Peace Museum. Distance and schedule-wise, that was not the right choice, but Arturo recommended that we got a volunteer guide for the museum tour, and I figured we should start with the Peace Museum in case guides were only available early in the afternoon (as is often the case). Due to the fireworks that night, there were lots of tourists in Hiroshima and the museum was packed (they also ran out of audiobooks), so having the guide worked out great (turns out, you have to know to ask for a guide at the museum information desk, not at the TI).
He was a very nice man and he gave us his own take on the displays, which definitely was a big plus:

welcome to Hiroshima, this is the famous building that partially survived the blast
welcome to Hiroshima, this is the famous building that partially survived the blast


before
before

after
after

graphic display showing how some people actually were after the blast, with their skin half burnt out and hanging
graphic display showing how some people actually were after the blast, with their skin half burnt out and hanging

little boy
little boy

a lot of people don't know the bombs were designed to detonate in the air, for a longer reach
a lot of people don't know the bombs were designed to detonate in the air, for a longer reach

this poor lady got her kimono patterns burnt into her skin
this poor lady got her kimono patterns burnt into her skin






many paper cranes to make those patterns
many paper cranes to make those patterns




Thanks to Yokoyama-San, our guide, it was a very interesting tour of the museum. My take on the museum itself: sadly half of it is currently closed due to renovations, but what we saw was informative and to the point. The museum did avoid controverial topics like the events that lead to the bomb, or looked at whether the very sad and very high civilian casualties can indeed be considered to be fewer casualties than if the war had had to continue until US troups made it to Tokyo with most of the Japanese fighting to the death like they had been doing until then, or whether the emperor had a decent chance to surrender between the 2 atomic bombs, or whether the US was a bit too eager to try both bombs and didn't give he Japanese long enough to surrender after the first one.
To its credit, the museum does mention the 20,000 Koreans that were killed in Hiroshima (and that were there as forced labour, although that "detail" isn't really mentioned).
If you care about more details on this part of history, this post on Why didn't Japan surrender after the first atomic bomb?. this other article, claims 'The invasion of Japan promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On July 16, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world's first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert.', which sadly sounds about right.
This other article mentions 'The Supreme Council met at 10:30. Suzuki, who had just come from a meeting with the Emperor, said it was impossible to continue the war. Tōgō Shigenori said that they could accept the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, but they needed a guarantee of the Emperor's position. Navy Minister Yonai said that they had to make some diplomatic proposal they could no longer afford to wait for better circumstances."

According to wikipedia: In the middle of the meeting, shortly after 11:00, news arrived that Nagasaki, on the west coast of Kyūshū, had been hit by a second atomic bomb', which strongly implies that Japan would have surrendered after the first atomic bomb, given a bit more time than the meager 3 days they were given
I realize those are controversial topics, but they are are important in my opinion. Going back to the main topic of the effects of the bomb, and how it was horrible on the civilian population, the museum does a great job.

Another sobering thought I learned was that the bomb in iroshima only yielded 1.5% of its potential. This is another way to say that it could have made 66 times more damage if the fission of its uranium had gone to completion! Wikipedia says When 1 pound (0.45 kg) of uranium-235 undergoes complete fission, the yield is 8 kilotons. The 16 kiloton yield of the Little Boy bomb was therefore produced by the fission of no more than 2 pounds (0.91 kg) of uranium-235, out of the 141 pounds (64 kg) in the pit. The remaining 139 pounds (63 kg), 98.5% of the total, contributed nothing to the energy yield

The museum also roots for a world without nuclear weapons, but in my opinion, with the threat of new nations that are happy to kill others no matter what the cost to them, I'm afraid that a world without nuclear weapons is sadly a pipe dream. That genie isn't going back in the bottle unfortunately, let's just hope that only responsible nations can be left with them, and the fewer the better.

Nonetheless, despite the museum not being perfect, overall I thought it did a fair enough job, especially in a country where historical truths are apparently not exactly free, and needless to say that no matter what side you might be on, the death, pain and suffering people of Hiroshima had to endure, is very painful and touching.

Next, we walked to Hiroshima Castle, which obviously is not original but does look nice. As a bonus, it has an elevator inside, and AC :)





Next, we went to Shukkeien, another beautiful garden, just next door to the castle:






By then, it was just past 18:00, and we went to find a descent viewing spot for the Fireworks that were going to start at 20:00. This meant we eat dinner on the go instead of finding a nice restaurant, but with a forecast 400,000 people trying to go to the same place, I knew that we had to find a good viewing spot early (with the official best viewing spots likely being full many hours before the official time). The place I opted for was out of the way and required a bit of walking, but we had a superb unobstructed view, while sitting down the whole time:





smiley faces
smiley faces



awesome fireworks
awesome fireworks

Here is a short video of the finale:

Getting back to our hotel was sadly not a piece of cake as we waited for a bus that was cancelled without notice. In the end, we had to walk a fair bit and miraculously stumbled on a cab that took a while to get out of the mess of a crowd we were in, but we made it back to our hotel and I got this picture from our room:


Considering that this was my birthday, I thought it was very nice for Hiroshima to have that big fireworks show just for me :)


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