I have been in Hiroshima since Wednesday evening, and yesterday I visited the Peace Memorial Museum and the A-Bomb dome, a characteristic ruin very close to the hypocenter of the nuclear bomb explosion on 6th August 1945. I won’t go in to details of the museum visit because if you just want to learn the facts, there are already many good sources, and for the experience you have to go and see it yourself (which I strongly recommend).
However, I learned one new thing that I want to mention here because it really shocked me: I had thought that Germany was just lucky enough to lose the war before the nuclear bombs were ready and if things had been different, big German cities would have been hit. As documents show in the museum prove, this assumption was wrong. The decision to use the first nuclear weapons against Japan was made as early as 1943, and possible targets were chosen mainly based on how good the effects would be visible. Just think about what that really implies.
Yesterday the cherry blossoms started to open in Hiroshima, and for me the view of the blossoming sakura trees in front of the dome is a wonderful symbol of hope. Almost 66 years ago, the first nuclear bomb used in war turned the place into a scorched desert, and today it is a bustling city with blossoming trees.
Maybe some of you also feel there is a dark irony in going to Hiroshima on a trip with the main purpose to stay away from the ongoing trouble at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. I can assure you that seeing Hiroshima and the museum helps putting things into perspective.
But now the Fukushima Daiichi plant is creating non-radioactive problems for the people here in western Japan. Yesterday evening a woman who was staying in the same hostel told me “Please tell your friends to come to Japan!” She works as a tourist guide and is now very worried about her job (and many others in the sector). Usually a lot of people come to see the cherry blossoms, but this year everyone canceled, likely out of fear. So if you want to support Japan, I hope you get the hint. 😉 You can also check the radiation measurements to confirm that everything is normal around here.