Part Three

Everyone has their triggers, something which makes you halt in your tracks with a big fat nope… enough is enough… time to slink away…

I passed displays and presentations in humbled silence, reading clips from peoples lives, the mundane transformed into the extraordinary by disastrous events. The pocket watch that had stopped at 8:45am, bottles, shoes, toys, clothes… A scale model city with a scale model bomb.

Then turning a corner, there is a stone step, just a step from a bank. Nothing else, just a step… I looked closer, reading to accompanying blurb… Upon the step was a dark circle, hardly noticeable until you read the information. I was looking at a shadow from the flash, the dark circle, a customer waiting for the bank to open, nothing, absolutely nothing remained to identify this individual. All that left over from their life was a dark circle upon a stone step.

This was my trigger and I *had* to leave! Head down, my pace quickened, but I remained respectfully walking throughout the rest of the museum, following the exit signs with hardly an upwards glance. Fighting to hold back tears and pausing only to sign a deceleration for nuclear dismemberment upon my way out.

I was torn, broken by history and badly needing fresh air!

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As I stepped outside and breathed deeply, I was greeted by the ‘Fountain of Peace’ … I breathed deeply, the sound of running water was refreshing, I felt a cascading wave of relief wash over my very soul.

The peace of the Garden I now stood in was refreshing and even though I would know that that step would remain with me until my end of days, so would the peace I felt afterwards.

My contrasting emotions. The war and the peace. The tragedy and the recovery.

Several streets away from the Garden down a small side street, is an unremarkable stone plinth. No frills or fuss, no attention or drama, just a simple stone plinth. This is the only indication of the actual epicentre, tucked away from the glorious garden, far removed from the museum of tragedy.

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A simple memento – A permanent reminder to the world…  

A. Harrison 29.04.16

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Part Two

Hiroshima 2016 

This is the view from my hotel room, from where I was staying
on the fourth floor of the Sunroute Hotel.

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Just a city view, over a river, concrete structures tumbling off into distant wild hillsides…
… Except … If you look a little closer, right in the centre of this photograph …

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(isn’t my zoom impressive)

You will notice an old ruined structure, rust and naked bricks supported by canvased scaffolding. Protected, yet not restored. This singular unremarkable building looks neglected and forlorn against the backdrop of such modern towering office blocks and thick rich trees.

Yet this building *is* remarkable, it is remarkable because it stands!

Image: A huge expanse of ruins is seen after the explosion of the atomic bomb

Image Source

That is the very same building. As I stood looking over the city from my fourth floor window, I could see this ruin very clearly and at the time I felt hesitant to venture any closer. My mind was a horrible churning of emotions, thick grief for a nation, embarrassment and impressed wonder muddled together as I stood alone in my silence.

I could never begin to imagine the devastation that had transpired at this location, I felt uneasy and uncomfortable. Yet there was nothing tragic in the air of the city today, just the normal fumbling around of people and transport. So I chose to swallow back my hesitation and ventured forth to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

No trigger warnings were issued, not in English anyway, if there were any. Even if there had been, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the exhibition within.

History, dates, times, events… laid out along in chronological order, presented in the form of photographs, information boards, films on loops, models… The usual examples of displays within a museum… With some extreme exceptions…

Graphic photos of burn victims, ruined clothing, melted glass, warped tricycle, fragments of normal every day life distorted by the horrific events.

Human remains preserved in fluid, scarred skin, tumors,  disfigured fingernails…

I felt my anxiety rising in my chest, my heart quickened, stinging tears began to threaten to spill free as an angry lump made it hard to swallow over my overwhelming swelling emotions. These same emotions causing my fingers to tremble as I type these words, I can feel the same reactions rising now, my toes clenched and I stare at the screen through fresh new tears…

Forgive me if I can not write any more today.

Anne Harrison 28.04.16

The First Casualty of War is Innocence

The first casualty of war is innocence. 

A tag line which has always stuck in my mind from the 1986 Oliver Stone film Platoon… I’ve been wanting to write about Hiroshima for a while and keep going through the words I want to share in my mind though this is the first time I’m putting them down to share.

I want to write *without* being political, objective or having to quote from other sources. So first I need to acknowledge, as the quote indicates, in war there are no (so called) innocent parties. That I am aware of the atrocities in Japanese war camps, the carnage caused by kamikaze pilots and other such nasties which take place during war. I am not going to defend these actions, neither can I condone the actions of the Americans on Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m.

Let me start with a childhood memory, walking with my parents down New Walk in Leicester must have been in the late 70’s Early 80’s… Along the whole length of the route had been painted white outlines of bodies, such as those that indicate corpse positions in a crime scene. These white painted figures I later discovered were in protest against Nuclear War by the CND a very real threat in that day an age, during the Cold War where we get to watch nuclear disaster themed films in school classes. Resulting in nightmares for weeks and the inability to watch the Judgement Day scene from T2 (to this day).

This trip down memory lane was triggered by visiting Hiroshima. Standing outside the station following our journey upon the Bullet Train, our tour guide (An American) stood speechless near a domed shaped fountain, unable to find any words beyond a mumbled apology which was suffocated by free flowing tears. The realisation of where we were standing and what had happened here was very real, the emotions raw, the apology  unnecessary. Despite the busy fussy streets around us, there was this moment of incredible silence among our tour group… Yet it was just a moment and our adventure continued, though with a distinct emotional overcoat.

Today Hiroshima reminded me somewhat of Nottingham, with tight bustling roads crossed with a tram system, folks hurrying along their way, a very live towering city of structures, businesses, people, dogs… You know, city kinda city shit… But…

70 Years ago…

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End of Part 1…

 

Anne Harrison 26.04.16

It’s the Little Things

Like Coffee in a can
From a vending machine
Yes a can with a ring pull
Yes it’s hot
Yes it’s good

Like the little spots
The timing dots
Above street lights
So you know its safe to cross

Like Clear Umbrellas
Like Socks with Heels
Like shops above shops

Miso Soup
Matcha Tea

Green Ice Cream
Cartoon characters on everything
Dangling Charms
And Hello Kitty traffic cones

Lights and Colours
Sounds and Smells
History and Technology
Nature and Concrete
Religion and Food

And Respect

By Anne Harrison 14.04.16

 

Anne’s Adventure

I could write a list, detail where I visited day by day and my reflections upon each place. However, this would reduce my encounters into a ‘First we went here – it was really pretty – then we went there – it was really noisy’ blog… Which can be really tedious and I would run out of words to describe beauty. I want to try and capture the whole experience and not a diary of events.

Japan in my own words:

Japan is vast! There is this overwhelming sense of size, in structure, population and history. There is also a significant element of pride, respect and consideration. Everywhere is clean, the bins are even clean, the rubbish appears clean and there is a distinct lack of litter, graffiti or vandalism. I’ve already mentioned the trees, even in the most densely populated cities, there are trees and green, this balance and harmony between the urban landscape and nature is similar to the comfortable juxtaposition between history, spirituality and technology. Whereupon you will stumble across perfectly maintained shrines alongside vending machines.

There is an amazing sense of individuality, it’s no secret that there is a wide variety of fashion genre throughout Japan and this is celebrated by the fact that anyone may wear whatever they like, as outrageous and wild as they want without any fear of ridicule or being the victim of any jest.

Allow me to explain through example: In my home town (Leicester) upon a Friday afternoon, I noticed a beautiful young woman with her friends, she stood out among the crowd, clad in the most perfectly adorable ‘Lolita’ outfit. I noticed the looks she gained from ‘normal’ folk (by normal, I mean this odd tradition we appear to have in England to all look alike in their Superdry jackets and Diesel jeans) sarcastic comments were passed between gaggles of guys and bitchy daggers were thrown from from under fake eyelashes. I felt compelled to approach and congratulate her upon her delightful outfit, which lead to a really friendly conversation and she expressed her distress at such hostile remarks. Because someone dared to looked different, they were the target for mockery from the hordes of fashion clones.

I experienced no such attitude upon my adventure throughout Japan, I was delighted and inspired by a whole range of beautiful and unique individuals, wild colours or muted pastels, heavy black make up or a doll faced delicate touch. Women wore traditional kimonos next to business man in suits upon the train and nearly everyone of any age or gender always appeared to have some amusing cartoon character dangling off bags or phones.

I hope this is beginning to express my delightful experiences, of cause I’ve plenty of notes in which to expand this blog and naturally, I’ve left these at home. But that’s OK, because it will give me more to write about on another day. For now I shall add some photos…

Enjoy!

Anne Harrison 13.04.16

 

 

Why Japan?

… I’m not a very well travelled person, my previous adventures have mainly consisted of a handful of European countries the furthest being Malta, a mere 3 hours away! I have always enjoyed travelling, exploring new places, especially submerging myself in the history and culture, the food, the people, the language and the funny little differences that we find oh so quirky…

Japan is a far step away from Malta, nearly six thousand miles away and (to my uneasy numb bum) fourteen hours away… I cant say ‘I’ve always wanted to go to Japan’ because it’s never been a real option, it’s always been a pipe dream, an unreachable goal on a bucket list going no where.

Then something changed, two things actually, which A: Inspired me to follow my dreams and B: Enabled me to follow my dreams. Basically being ill in 2013, something about nearly dying kinda transforms your bucket list a to do list, secondly clearing off all my debts (which was a tedious process) has given me the freedom to spread my wings and fly!

Therefore one lunch time, in much the same manner I decided to go to University, I sat there Googling randomness and suddenly declared, I know, I’m going to go to Japan!

… And that’s how it happened…

Anyway that’s enough verbal dribbling, I want to tell you about Tokyo…

I’m already nervous, as my In Flight Blog will testify, yet my trip through customs was painless. However when you’re picked up by a driver with your name on a card, whisked away in a car alone in a city your don’t know, still reeling from such a long flight and with a further ninety minute journey to the hotel. My fears were running wild, if I wasn’t so shattered I would have been exceptionally anxious. Yet I was informed I would be collected, even the length of the journey was accurate to five minuets, and that was in heavy Tokyo mid-morning traffic but I kept thinking to myself how badly I wanted Liam Neeson to be my Dad!

My initial observations were regarding size, the city was vast and immaculate, travel down the M1 in the UK and the place is littered with the shredded remains of a junk food diet, cascading in the breeze like forlorn ghosts. Upon my whole ninety minute journey I can not recall seeing any litter, the central reservation was shrouded in ivy and wild aloe vera grew along the roadside in thick healthy batches. Despite the reputation of a ‘concrete jungle’ it felt as though there were trees everywhere, the concrete living in harmony with nature, the trees breathing life and colour into the waves of grey. Small trees, large trees, patches of trees with great towering bamboo, exotic palm trees and lone trees. Somehow this relationship worked well together and I relaxed into my drive, watching the world pass me by, absorbing the sights and sounds of a city so vastly different from my own, excitement replaced my exhausted anxiety and I could not stop smiling!

 

Well, my friends, I have no lunch time left, my hour sped by and my writing was distracted by snippets of work work, I hope this has eased you into my tale a little at least and I shall try to continue some more tomorrow.

 

Anne Harrison 07.04.16