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Day 9: Hiroshima

We started the morning at Nijo castle in Kyoto, the residence of the Shogun (when he wasn't off ruling the country in Tokyo.

The Karamon gate at Nijo castle.

The castle is surrounded by gardens. In the background is part of the palace. You can also see some of the hordes of school kids who were visiting most everywhere (it was school trip season when we were there). The decorative carp are in the moat surrounding the palace.

The garden of Nijo castle.

Late in the morning, we took a bullet train to Hiroshima. The city has been entirely rebuilt, largely in a bland 50s style, although with touches of the 80's boom. Peace Boulevard is by far the widest street we saw in Japan.

Peace Boulevard in Hiroshima

At the end of the boulevard are the memorials to the atomic bombing. The "A-Bomb Dome" was one of the handful of buildings inexplicably left standing by the blast, and it was preserved as a memorial.

A-bomb dome in Hiroshima

There's also a museum that records the event in almost excruciating detail, but glosses over Japan's role in the conflict. You can easily see why Japan's neighbors feel it hasn't confronted its past in any constructive ways. A memorial holds all the names of the victims.

The cenotaph, with a-bomb dome in background

Thousands of origami cranes mark a very Japanese story about a young girl who survived the blast, and believed that if she made enough origami cranes, she would be cured of her leukemia. In her honor, schoolchildren send more origami cranes. I did not find this story very inspiring, although the cranes are quite a sight.

Origami cranes piled on the Children's Peace Memorial

In the evening, as we waited in the hotel lobby to go to dinner, I saw this scene of women in traditional kimonos checking in.

Women in kimonos at Mitsui Garden Hotel

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2001 Joel Abrams. All rights to images reserved.