Riding on a bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima at a speed of more than 200 miles per hour was an extraordinary experience, but getting to Hiroshima was nothing I could ever imagine. Modern, clean and welcoming city that was exterminated off the place of the earth only 68 years ago by an atomic bomb and is one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Right behind the Atomic Bomb Dome, the only building that survived the attack on August 6th, 1945, is the most impressive park with a museum, called Peace Memorial Park.
Since we were all tired and sluggish from the night before in Kyoto where we had a social shindig with some locals, the only thing we were looking forward in Hiroshima is bed time. However, waking up early was great so we could go and see why Hiroshima is advocating for world peace past 68 years. After interactive museum and park tours, we got to meet two people that survived the atomic bomb attack and wanted to share their horrific experience. They are both World Peace Advocates and try to bring people from all over the world to come to Hiroshima to see and feel that nuclear energy should not be on this planet as a weapon of mass destruction. They compared 5000 degrees of Celsius during the detonation to both temperatures of the Sun and the Hell itself, as they saw human bodies melting and walking down the streets while they were just kids at the age of 8. Past three years, Hiroshima had over 380,000 foreign visitors, which makes it the most popular tourist destination in Japan, following Kyoto and Tokyo.
After two days in Hiroshima, we are still under a tremendous shock of how well we are accommodated and welcomed everywhere. Kyle Hutchison ’16, Will Lardner ’14 and myself were on a mission of finding genuine Hiroshima food, or Okonomiyaki. The easiest way to explain it is this: if quesadilla and pizza met each other in Japan and had an intercourse on a mattress of noodles and cabbage, their babies would be called okonomiyaki. Since it was raining and were we in the downtown area not knowing where good local food is, we just walked into a random restaurant to ask where the yum-yums were. His English was very basic, but he understood that we want something that is not on a menu in his restaurant. After thumbs up and a simple “we run, okay?”, we went for a jog in the rain to his favorite okonomiyaki place that was at least a mile away, in a neighborhood that can be called anything but touristy. On our run there, we had a brief introduction, and he was thrilled to hear that our school is close to Chicago, after which he tried to replicate Michael Jordan’s free throw dunk from an All Star game in 1988. He introduces us to the folks that own the place, and the welcomed us in a best way possible. Food was exquisite, and on our way back we stopped by the restaurant of the guy that took us out for a run to say thank you and of course, take a picture.
Tomorrow we go on a daily trip to Matsuyama on a ferry boat.