Friday, October 17, 2014

Kobe & Hiroshima

A day of stark contrasts found us moving from the modern harbor city of Kobe to the beautiful and sad city of Hiroshima.  In Kobe, we visited the mission home which has been rebuilt and replaced the one of my days.  The senior couples working in the office were loving their time back in Japan.

Luke and I scored on the Hotel Okura in a last minute online deal.  Not sure what the normal charge is but likely in the many hundreds of dollars per night but we got it for about $100.  Our view of Kobe harbor from the 12th floor was stunning.

We rode that ferris wheel for another spectacular 360 view of the city and harbor

On the way to the train station, we found these sweet little ladies and couldn't resist buying their pastry
Pastry is largely an import idea in Japan, their versions with red bean paste are
terrible.  But this European style was fabulous!
Then it was off to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen - "bullet train" -  looks pretty sleek doesn't it!

After we arrived, Luke and I spent the night in a Ryokan - Japanese style home turned motel.  Slept on Tatami mats, futons, and were provided these nifty Yukata robes (highly tempted to go home with them in our bags!).
In the morning, it was off to see the tragic reminder of humanity at its worst - war.  How do people ever reconcile their histories when we've done such awful things to each other?  Memorial to tragedy is the famous Hewa Koen ("Peace Park) in the heart of Hiroshima near the epicenter of the A bomb blast.
The only building left standing after the bomb
This location offers a view down the park that includes the eternal flam
burning in hopes of peace, and the bombed building in the back

As a young girl lay dying from burns and radiation, she became
obsessed with folding origami cranes as a symbol of her wish
for the tragedy of war to never come again.  She is memorialized here and
thousands of paper cranes are sent to the memorial each year by
Japanese children
The cranes used to hang from the center of the memorial statue, but due to their
overwhelming numbers, are now housed in these little displays

Though faint from the years, you can see in these steps to the Hiroshima Bank a grey outline.
When the bomb struck there was a man sitting here waiting for the bank to open.  The
heat disintegrated his body and bleached the stones around him but his body shield
left in the stones his outline as it absorbed the heat.
In the park, we encountered this peaceful old man feeding sparrows - a sweet symbol of kindness and contemplation that we wish filled the whole world.

Another hope for peace monument as you leave the park
That afternoon we again boarded the Shinkansen and headed for Himeji, the last place I served during my mission years.  We'll catch you up on Himeji in the coming days.


Leah said...

Those robes are awesome. If I know you like I think I do, I'll be seeing them in the near future.

Hiroshima-wow. That is heartbreaking. I was telling Luke that I remember when people did the cranes for Matt when he had his surgery and how beautiful a sentiment it was.

Vicki Rinne said...

Hiroshima has always meant to me unimaginable horror and suffering. So I am glad that you posted the picture of the man feeding the sparrows, and your meaningful caption. Again, thanks for sharing this trip with us. Heikki and Vicki