Writing this series of blog post got somewhat stalled as I tried to figure out how to explain Nagasaki. Some things are easy to communicate. For instance, I went to breakfast at a diner that had eggs and spent an amusing 3 minutes trying via much pointing and sign language to first understand the question “What type of bread do you want with your eggs?” and then answer it (thick, btw, was what I ended up with). There was also an excellent meal of small cooked foods on sticks. And the city tram was safe, and clean, and only mildly confusing.
But food and tram rides aren’t the major things one goes to Nagasaki to see.
20 years from now there are three things I’m certain I’ll remember: The day of the eclipse, eating fugu in a sushi shop that slaughtered the food swimming in front of us, and visiting the Nagasaki Peace memorial at the site of the Nagasaki atomic bomb impact.
I’m still without words. My mind is filled with images: cluster after cluster of 100 oragami cranes, hung in random streams in the public atrium; melted glass bottles from near the impact site; statues of angels from a church that had parts of its entrance somehow left standing; images of radiation poison bodies that continue to haunt me; and the meditation ares. There is section of the memorial where they encourage you to meditate or pray where you walk through a weaving walk between walls looked like cedar planking, but it was hand molded cement, where the builders had pounded in cedar planks, one set after another, to make lasting walls. I don’t know why this one aspect struck me, and stuck with me, but touching the walls and feeling them cold and solid under my hands … it is a strong memory.
Rather than try and say more, I’m just going to add snapshots (When I’m on better internet tonight) and tell you that if you are American or Japanese, this should be a trip you make; if you are in a country that has nuclear weapons, this is a trip you should make; if you care about not repeating the past, this is a trip you should make.