Wednesday, May 28, 2008


This city was bombed. The first nuclear bomb ever dropped intentionally on people, and my first impression is one of life. The city sits on a river delta, spread beneath steep green hills, and life is everywhere. Shops, restaurants, people laughing in the streets. Incredible that only sixty odd years can bring a city back from a smoking ruin to a bustling metropolis. Come to think of it, it might be more incredible how quickly the city turned from it`s original bustling metropolis into a smoking ruin.

Shoot, I hate to talk about the bombing, but being in Hiroshima, seeing the relics and hearing the stories ripped right to my core. I feel obligated.

The bomb:
The a-bomb killed about 200,000 people. That`s a hard number to wrap your head around, but you can imagine it like this: if you took 200,000 people and stood them in a single file line, chest to back, the line would be 75 miles long.

I always imagined it to be an instant vaporization, but that wasn`t at all the case. Most people died of horrible burns and radiation sickness, watching their bodies slough apart and melt away over a period of days or weeks. Many died years later from the radiation exposure. Cancer, Leukemia. The bomb emitted mostly heat, which burned people but also set the whole city on fire at once. Drawings done by A-bomb survivors depict a raging inferno, consuming wood, cloth, and flesh. Really really indescribably terrible.

New bombs are better bombs:
The bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were primative compared to modern bombs. The biggest bomb ever TESTED was tested by Russia in the 70s, and was 3100 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. That one bomb was 17 times more destructive than every bomb and bullet and explosion in all of World War II. And there are thousands of them and even newer bigger ones sitting in silos and subs around the world. Dang.

The new city:
Hiroshima has rebuilt itself as a city dedicated to Peace and anti-nuclear activism. Although the city is fresh and thriving, the bomb is not forgotten. In the center of town they`ve left one of the few buildings that survived the bombing as a reminder. You can see this charred skeletal dome, propped up by modern reinforcements, through the hole in the A-bomb monument.

I could go on and on:
But I won`t -
Bombs are bad.
War is bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mark Twain said humour was the most powerful weapon in the world. At the time of the Hiroshima bombing however, our culture was hopelessly and recklessly full of venom for Japan but I'm left speechless by the atrocities of war. It's not always us, but it is a lot of the time. There is no place to hide anymore but we do our best to deny and avoid. It's so hard to even talk about it even when you're sympathetic. I long for our troops to leave Iraq but also Okinawa. It's just shameful.