I liked Korea. It wasn’t just the rich, easily accessible street food, or the strong coffee. It wasn’t just the suprising boisterousness of daily life- when I went to Silloam Sauna there were people shouting across the room and jumping into the pools, which was a world apart from Japan. I liked the passion for colour in Korean temples and the rough-and-ready markets. Yeah, I liked Korea.
But I fell in love with Japan. Continue reading “Two Peaces (Travelogue Part 6- Nagasaki- Hiroshima)” →
with many thanks to Kazuhiko, whom I spoke to at Hiroshima Social Book Cafe, Dohashicho (near Dobashi streetcar station). Continue reading “A Survivor’s Story” →
Hiroshima has a castle. Perched atop a musha-gaeshi (the Japanese equivalent of a motte) and surrounded by an network of enclosed maru (courtyards, or baileys in European castle-speak), the castle tower is an impressive sight. In the grounds, the ruins of the Imperial War Headquarters lurk; the emperor stayed here in the 1890s, during the first Sino-Japanese War. Attendants sweep the paved terraces clear of leaves. The yagura (guard tower) keeps a watchful eye on guests. Crows alight from stone lanterns, and you’re instantly drawn back into a world of samurai, closed castle towns, and men in straw hats carrying water.
Continue reading “Reconstructions” →
‘I apologised for human sinfulness, to nobody in particular’– Shinsaku Koguchi, A-bomb survivor (account of August 6th, 1945)
You probably haven’t heard of Paul Tibbets, but you’ve heard of his plane. Growing up in the Midwest, he moved out to Florida, where he flew regularly as a teenager and became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the US Air Corps. He articulated an uncomplicated view of American exceptionalism, and of his mission: ‘well my thought was, the damn thing worked’.
He was matter-of fact, unapologetic, even cold in interviews; little trace shows of the tenderness which led him to name his plane after his mother, Enola Gay Haggard. He defended his actions to the last: and even advocated using nuclear weapons against al-Qaeda: ‘I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ‘em out’.
Continue reading “Forgetting to Remember” →
At 8:15 AM on August 6th, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, killing 80,000 people in minutes and levelling the city. I won’t bore you with a treatise on the morality or otherwise of the decision, but I will share an eye-opening revelation- before the bomb was dropped, Stalin had planned to occupy Hokkaido after the war. Whether America’s attack was primarily intended to intimidate the Soviet Union is still hotly debated.
Continue reading “Ten Thousand Lanterns” →