10:50 p.m. on Aug. 8. We ended up in a three star hotel due to lack of availability at budget places in Nagasaki as it is the weekend and a special weekend at that. I am in a lovely corner suite with a view of the city by myself after having washed in the public bath. My feet welcomed the hot water and Jacuzzi propulsions after a long day of travelling from Yamaguchi Prefecture by train with all our stuff, then touring Nagasaki A-Bomb Museum and Peace Park. (We had to ditch the rental care last night.)
The Peace Park is all dressed up for the memorial service tomorrow at 10 a.m. At the site of the blast’s hypocenter, we viewed huge peace banners created by teachers and children in Japan and other countries. We saw people setting up lanterns and laying wreaths and multi-coloured paper peace crane chains. We took photos of the hypocenter memorial marker, the memorial sculpture for 8.9, the fountains and plaza. At the plaza, high school students were setting up lanterns created by pupils at the initiative of the teachers\ union. There were hundreds of lanterns surrounding fountains, lining stairways and sitting on the plaza’s concrete surface in clever arrangements. Each lantern bore individual peace wishes of each student who crafted them.
At one of the fountains of the park’s main plaza, a banner for 8.8 was hung announcing a peace memorial concert. It seemed that communities were quite involved—I guess through both the Catholic parish and the city’s schools. Bands and choirs were practicing when we visited the Catholic Cathedral and cruised through the park. The concert was lovely—at least all we caught at the beginning of the evening programme. There cuddled by the greenery, a Girl-Guide and a Boy Scout emceed. Three formations of mid-school students sang touching arrangements at the fountain lit by candlelight. A quartet played a composition remembering the A-Bomb blast and victims composed by a resident of Nagasaki and it was incredibly beautiful.
Hypocenter Monument, Nagasaki
We are hoping everything will stay on track and go ahead tomorrow. We want to join the indoor rally at nine and march to the hypocenter for a brief ceremony as of 10:15. The elaborate preparations such as staging, tents, chairs, emergency services, audio amplification, decorations and signage were going full steam ahead at the ceremony site despite the repeated forecasts of a typhoon. As in Hiroshima, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries are expected to attend tomorrow’s official ceremony. As the violin sang and cried at the concert, the dark clouds gathered in the distance, the wind picked up and thunder rolled far away. Now, as I sit in bed writing this in my note pad, the wind can be heard driving into the hotel’s structure. I am situated on the eighth floor. I just opened the balcony window to check and detected no rain as yet. We were confounded this afternoon during our tour when the sun came out and it got quite hot.
We went straight to the A-bomb museum after arriving and storing our stuff at the train station lockers because we expected to encounter heavy rain. Nagasaki being a smaller city, the memorial hall and museum are smaller in scale but no less thoughtful, well organized, artful, informative and committed to eradicating nuclear weapons and war. Its anti-war message and interpretation of history and the motives and context of the development and deployment of the A-bombs are strong as are those of the Hiroshima museum and peace park but different. For one thing, there is a strong Catholic influence here. The ruins of the A-bomb blast chosen for representative preservation in Nagasaki are the remnants of the original Catholic Cathedral as opposed to the ruins of a public building in the case of Hiroshima. It has been rebuilt and stands as a principle monument of the city today. As another comparison, the museum uses more photos of the wasteland left behind by the explosion courtesy of the US military who was standing by and ready to document the disaster for its own sick purposes. Though the US military experimented with plutonium in the case of the second deployed nuclear bomb, they had dropped a larger and uranium fueled bomb on Hiroshima. Though smaller, the Nagasaki bomb was just as devastating because the blast was contained by a valley enclosed by mountains. The Nagasaki Museum shows more graphic evidence of injuries to human bodies. Also, it keeps lists of the names of the direct victims stored in a kind of mausoleum instead of the bodies because there were no bodies to recover at the center of the explosion. Even many photos of the victims are displayed there; yet the Hiroshima museum does not show many names and pictures of victims. Nagasaki seems to be less political. There is less evidence of activity opposing war in general, though efforts at reducing the nuclear weapons stockpile have been done.