Today I got to hear the first of the Hibakusha talks. Hibakusha is the Japanese word for the survivors of the Atomic Bomb. This name can also extend to those who may not have been there when the Atomic Bomb was dropped, but travelled to Hiroshima a short time after the event and were exposed to the aftermath of the attack, as well as those exposed to radiation in the uterus.
The speaker today is called a Hibakusha because he was in the uterus of his mother when the atomic bomb was dropped. He was a very reserved man with a very limited knowledge of English. He therefore actually needed a translator to tell his story and explained his story in his native tongue.
This actually created an interesting result. The woman who was his translator had maybe an intermediate knowledge of English. As he went on explaining his story in what seemed like thoughtful detail, the woman responded in short sentences with basic English vocabulary. It felt like there was something lost in the translation, such as his specific choice of words and the emotion he was trying to convey. There was definitely information that was very intriguing and which will be useful for my research, but I think that there was so much other information that could also have been beneficial to hear.
I also got to go on a tour through the Peace Memorial Park. I had already walked through a lot of the park on my own, but this time I was able to go with a woman whose father was a Hibakusha. The tour lasted about two hours. We were able to see two trees which had miraculously survived the bombing and which had grown new growth in the spring after the attack, serving as a symbol of hope for all of the people in Hiroshima. This symbol of Hope really struck me, as there was so much symbolism in all of the memorials in the park. There is the Peace Bell which has a symbol of nuclear power on the point on the surface of the bell that you hit to ring it. There is the fire that will be blown out as soon as there are no more nuclear tests in the world. There is the structure that contains the names of all of the victims that is built in the style of the tops of old Japanese houses to symbolize protection from weather and all harm. The people of Hiroshima feel so strongly about ending all nuclear tests and moving to a time where nuclear weapons don’t exist. Within the museum there is a clock that keeps track of how long it has been since the last nuclear test. Large groups of school children of all ages are taken through the park. The guide told me that the people of Hiroshima have a goal that the world will be nuclear free by 2020. Every time there is a nuclear test, the mayor of Hiroshima writes a letter to that country. There is so much hope in Hiroshima it is really powerful and you can feel it everywhere.