Day 6: Hiroshima

Up at 9am for a shower and my usual rice ball breakfast from the convenience store. This time, I got the rice ball with the soft boiled egg in the middle, delicious!

We walked back to Yokogama Station and got onto the streetcar (tram) down to the Atomic Bomb Dome. Prior to 1945, the Atomic Bomb Dome was the Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Promotion Hall showcasing local crafts and cultural festivals. It was built in 1915 by a Czech architect and the Dome was a dark green colour. On the 6th August 1945 at 8.15am, the United States used the first atomic bomb, exploding 600 metres above ground and almost flattened the entire city killing 140,000 by the end of 1945 (due to radiation poisoning). The dome building was 160 metres from the epicentre and is one of very few buildings, human beings or trees that survived the blast. The Atomic Bomb Dome is a reminder for future generations the horror and suffering the people of Hiroshima experienced and the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons and everlasting world peace. In 1996 it was declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the opposite side of the Motoyasu-gawa river is the Atomic Bomb Peace Park. The central point of the Peace Park is the ‘Pond of Peace’ with the ‘Flame of Peace’ in the middle. The flame is set to burn until all of the worlds nuclear weapons are destroyed and I'm afraid it will continue to burn for a very long time. At the end of the pond is the cenotaph. The cenotaph is a curved concrete monument that hold the names of all the known victims of the bomb. If you look through the curvature, it frames the Flame of Peace and the Atomic Bomb Dome. It is a quiet, sombre place to reflect.

The children lost during the atomic bombing are represented by the Children's Peace Monument. This monument was inspired by Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old when the bomb struck. She grew to be happy and healthy until at the age off 11 when she developed leukaemia and passed away 8 months later. Whilst in hospital, she began to fold paper cranes as the crane is the symbol for longevity and happiness and if she folded 1000, she would be granted a wish and a hope to recover. After her passing, her classmates continued to fold paper cranes and has now inspired a country to fold thousands of cranes and place them at the monument.

The sun was blistering despite sunscreen application so we headed into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and were captivated by the photographs and relics from the aftermath of the bombing. Confronting photographs of people with burns to every square centimetre of skin, a wrist watch that will forever be stuck on 8.15am, ragged uniforms worn by children on their way to school and melted glass bottles from 1100 metres from the epicentre (the epicentre hit 4000 degrees Celsius) were all on display. It is not an uplifting exhibition but thought provoking and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.

By the time we finished in the Peace Park, it was 3pm and we were hungry. We walked to the outskirts of the Entertainment District and went to an Americanised Cafe. Jacinta had the spaghetti with beef and a side of rice and I had the four cheese Margherita Pizza (point to remember: never attempt Western Food with heaps of lactose in Japan due to severe abdominal pain and a lack of western toilets to relieve oneself).

Our final visit for the day was the Hiroshima Castle. In the 16th century, the delta of the Otagawa River was called Gokamura (Five Villages) due to five separate townships in the area. In 1589, Lord Terumoto decided to build his castle to then be able to govern the nine surrounding provinces that today makes Hiroshima. Hiroshima got its name from Lord Terumoto's ancestors Oneo Hiromoto (Hiro) and Fukushima Motonaga (-shima). In 1894 it became a military facility during the Sino-Japanese War. It was completed destroyed during the atomic bombing and the present tower was rebuilt in 1958 as a museum.

It was starting to become dusk at 5.30pm so we caught the tram back to Yokogama Station and then walked home. Our feet and backs ached from the standing and walking today. Not to mention my hip is still giving me grief with each step.

After a quick rest, we then became domestic goddesses and did a full load of washing whilst going to a soba noodle house for dinner. We both got the beef with soba noodles in a light soy sauce base with spring onions all for $7. Something nice and light after my lunch fiasco. We stopped off at the convenience store for breakfast goodies and I bought a tube of sunscreen (I promise I won't get burnt!)

Back at the hotel, we both took nurofen and panadol while our clothes were in the dryer. Early night in as we are both mentally and physically drained. We laid on our beds with music playing and ate Hokkaido Chocolate!