Such an emotionally thought-provoking city, site of the first atomic bomb detonation August 6, 1945 at 8:15 A.M. dropped from the Enola Gay.  In seventy years tremendous development has replaced the rubble.  Near the center of the impact there is a peace park, monuments, and museum to honor the those taken at that time or years later when cancer took their lives.  About 6,300 innocent children, who were helping clear damaged buildings to make a fire lane, perished.  It is estimated about 140,000 people died by the end of 1945.  Buildings within a 2 km radius were destroyed.  Often deaths were confirmed simply from personal effects as so many bodies were never found to be returned to their families.

The a-bomb exploded about 600 meters above and 160 meters southeast of Hiroshima Prefectual Industrial Promotion Hall. It ripped through and ignited the building, killing everyone inside. Due to the explosion being almost directly overhead some of the center walls remained standing. It is now known as the A-bomb Dome.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum exhibits brutal truths about the effects of the bomb.

The peace flame within Peace Park symbolizes the hope for a world free from nuclear weapons and will remain lit until all such weapons are banished from Earth.  The flame was first lit in 1964 by representatives from thirty-five temples, shrines, and churches in Japan as well as those from Japanese industries and religions.  Ten thousand observers prayed silently.

At the Children’s Peace Monument are thousands of paper cranes in memory of Sadako Sasaki and thousands of other children who lost their lives due to the bomb, either immediately or years later.  The monument  includes a golden metal crane bell people ring to honor them.

The multi-storied Hiroshima Castle was established in 1589.   About three hundred years later the dissolution of the feudal system gave way to prefectures.  Gradually, the Castle became more of a military facility.  In 1945 the atomic bomb demolished the castle, and reconstruction occurred in 1958.  It is now housing historic artifacts.

Despite the sad overture accompanied by drizzle, the height of the cherry blossom season created a more cheerful atmosphere.

A young couple we had met on a train in Kyoto recommended a restaurant near the Peace Park where the only food on the menu is an okonomiyaki (how you want it).  There were numerous variations available.  We chose to sit at the counter in order to watch the process in creating these delicious monstrosities.  First batter is poured on the grill and spread out using the ladle.  A batch of noodles are then grilled.  Enormous layers of  shredded cabbage and bean sprouts are added along with, in our case, bacon, fried egg, tempura scraps, scallions, etc. which are smooshed down as they cook.  At the end the top is brushed with a special sauce.  As we were seated at the counter right by the grill they set our finished creations at our end of it to keep them warm.  Using a metal spatula we served ourselves.  It was surprisingly good and way too much for me to eat, though I did, regrettably so.  The next day my stomach did not feel well and would seize from time to time.  Being a Sunday we had trouble finding a pharmacy that was open.  We had to go to the train station to reserve seats for the next leg of the journey and had to wait there for a half hour until one opened and I could get some medicine.  I was sold a box of packets of powder to dilute in water before eating three times a day.  Gosh, that was fast acting!  I took it for two days and then seemed to be okay.  As much as I enjoyed eating okonomiyaki, the thought of having another one wasn’t appealing even two weeks later!

Less than an hour away is Miyajima, a small island famous for its giant vermillion tori gate.  Due to a tummy issue we didn’t get there until mid-day during low tide.  Thus, we missed the effect of the tori and shrine floating on water.  Tourists and deer were everywhere.  Being low tide many locals were mucking about digging for what we think were oysters.  Deer stole food if given the least possibility and even picked pockets to eat whatever paper goody was packed away.  I hope no one lost their Japan Rail Passes or money to the vermin.  While perching on a rock wall with a plastic bag of rolls for a snack, two deer nosed their way in, one with a bloody horn stub, and took the last two rolls.  In exchange, I was given a large bloody spot on my jacket sleeve.  Not equitable!  On the opposite end of the spectrum, humans left their personal items on benches while well away oyster digging.  No thieves of any kind paid any attention!  Amazing.   I know some cultures who could do with following this model.  Bill even saw a very young boy toss a bit of trash towards a bag, and when he missed he went to pick it up and put it in the bag without anyone telling him to do so.  In fact, no adult was even nearby.