Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nagasaki Peace Park

This post is about my visit last spring (2009) to Nagasaki.

The Nagasaki Peace Park was created in 1955 as a memorial park and is located near the site where the second atomic bomb was dropped during World War II. This photo was taken on a hill that has a great view of pretty much all of Nagasaki. The park, and bomb hypocenter, is located in the greenish area that I've circled in red:

At one end of the park is a very large statue that was created by Nagasaki sculptor Seibou Kitamora. A great deal of symbolism is represented by the figure. For example, the raised right hand points to the sky where the bomb came from (symbolizing the continuing threat of nuclear weapons) and the outstretched left arm points to the earth itself (symbolizing the hope for eternal peace).

Towards the center of the park is a fountain that was installed to memorialize the people who did not die immediately from the blast but later died from dehydration. The story goes that a nine-year-old girl named Sachiko Yamaguchi was searching for water after the bombing. There's a plaque nearby with her words: "I was thirsty beyond endurance. There was something oily on the surface of the water, but I wanted water so badly that I drank it just as it was."

Down a hill from the center of the Peace Park is a small open area that almost seems like an after thought. There are only a couple of small signs that tell you what's there. This monolithic sculpture is located below the exact point where the atomic bomb was detonated (the hypocenter):

11:02 a.m. August 9, 1945. Nagasaki, Japan. 73,884 dead and 74,909 injured out of an approximate population of 240,000. It is said that an additional 70,000 died within five years and that there are side effects still being felt today.

Thanks to Yo, a Nagasaki-area local, for being an incredible guide and for teaching me so much about an amazing country and culture. Arigato!

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