On the 6th of August 1945 at 08:15 the first atomic bomb in world history was dropped on the city of Hiroshima and destroyed a whole city as well as killing ten thousands of its inhabitants. To mourn those that died at that day or after that due to the aftereffects of the bomb a memorial day is held every year on the very same day and this year it was the 66th anniversary. Of course I attended.
The ceremony in the peace park started at 08:00 and was opened by a speech from the mayor of Hiroshima regarding the importance of peace and abolishment of nuclear weapons, before there was a minute of silence at 08:15. The whole park fell silent, except for the rumouring cicadas in the trees around us. To be honest, minutes of silence usually don’t evoke big emotions in me and this was no different, but it was still an impressive moment to witness. After that, the prime minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, held his speech and of course there was also a big emphasis on nuclear power after the events at Fukushima, which still aren’t solved and will be effecting Japan for many years to come. The last speaker was someone from the UN, whom I didn’t know, but he spoke along those lines. All of them laid down flowers at the cenotaph, where the names of all recognised victims are recorded and after the ceremony we also went up there to offer our prayers.
The site of the ceremony with the cenotaph in the background.
Offering flowers and prayers at the cenotaph.
Throughout the day, there were more activities and events related to the memory of the victims such as theatre plays or folding paper cranes, but the most important one was the lantern parade on the Ota river directly next to the peace park in the evening. My language tandem partner Masako and I attended there and even wrote a text for our own lantern, to put it into the water later. It is actually quite difficult to write down something meaningful, which also expresses your own feelings, so it took me a while. But still, I was an attraction as a foreigner who was writing on a paper lantern and an old Japanese guy even took a picture of me ^^”
Masako and some small Japanese girls in cute yukatas are writing their messages on the lanterns.
Our completed lantern, ready for a swim.
And off it goes…
And in the end, I want to leave you with a few pictures of the lanterns floating on the Ota river in the evening. It was a really beautiful scenery and got me far more moved than any minute of silence ever could. The day itself was also an impressive message for peace and the whole atmosphere didn’t feel heavy and grievous, but instead more focussed on building a positive future. I for one liked that kind of thinking