October 30, 2006
Ever since we arrived in Japan, Hiroshima has been on the short list of places all four of us wanted to visit. Of course, regardless of the lively city it’s become, the name Hiroshima will always be synonymous with the atomic bomb. Indeed, it was this legacy that drew Than, Gerard, Whitney, and I to its streets this weekend.
Walking along the bustling sidewalks of Hiroshima, crowded with people from all over the world, it’s hard to imagine that this is the same place once leveled by the world’s first atomic bomb. We passed pretty green parks and walked along tree-lined paths, exchanging konnichiwas and friendly nods with strangers, and I utterly failed to envision the devastation that must have followed the explosion so many years ago. These days, downtown is lined with towering glass buildings festooned with bright flags advertising everything from cell phones to sushi. Swarms of tourists and shoppers surge across intersections like water from a dam, flooding into the next street of shops and restaurants. It’s busy, modern, and prosperous. Definitely a fun place to be.
However, there is one very visible reminder of Hiroshima’s past, and this was our main destination. Nestled between
modern buildings and a river is the twisted rubble of the former Hiroshima Prefectural Hall, now known as the Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome). On August 6, 1945 this building was almost directly below the epicenter of the atomic bomb’s blast. Through a twist of fate and physics the blast blew the wreckage straight down, leaving the skeleton of the building standing. Standing outside the building felt strangely surreal. The mangled, cracked frame has been preserved just as it was on that day 61 years ago, chunks of brick and concrete still crumbled around its base just as it