Field Trip to Hiroshima, 2015 Spring
From May 15th to 18th, UC students and MGU students visited Hiroshima.
They had an opportunity to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Park, Okuno-shima (the site of a WWII era weapons plant), the Fukuromachi Elementary School’s Peace Museum and Hiroshima Castle. They also had an opportunity to hear of the experience of a survivor of the atomic bombing.
[ A student’s reflection on the trip ]
There were many aspects about Japan that will hold a place in my heart forever. From having late night Ramen with friends, taking the train throughout the concrete Jungle known as Tokyo, to taking numerous field trips with the other study abroad students. Yet the one that I can remember the most vividly was our time spent in Hiroshima. This trip was full of wonder and adventure, yet there was also a deep seeded feeling of pain and loss there as well.
Though this was to be expected, traveling to the site of the first militarily utilized nuclear weapon. The experience was one that was greatly unexpected as well. Hiroshima now is a booming city with areas of ten story buildings that are interwoven by Hiroshima's network of rivers. A bustling nightlife and Hiroshima style okonomiyaki made going out much different than anything I had experienced before. Within the first day we made our way to the Hiroshima world heritage site. The site was wide open with many middle school aged children in large groups most likely from all over Japan getting a chance understand their history. There were flowers everywhere; it was beautiful place. Within the museum we caught a glimpse of the horror and devastation that surrounded the nuclear bombing. It was quite a somber, yet enlightening sight. We heard a presentation by a hibakusha – or one who is afflicted with radiation poisoning. She had been a child during the bombing and gave us a vivid recapitulation of the event. We were deeply touched by the intensity of her situation after the bombing, and by her ability to stay strong even after such a terrifying event. On our trip we also went to Okuno-shima, an island known for its hundreds of free roaming rabbits. The island also had a darker past in that it was used for biological warfare development and testing during the Second World War. To see a place so beautiful and full of so much life, yet had once been used for so much death, was astonishing.
Finally we went to Miyajima, an island just outside of Hiroshima. Miyajima was absolutely stunning. The island was full of tourists, but it still managed to maintain its very traditional feel with small shops along a long strip just after the ferry drop off and countless temples and shrines. The island was also known for many free roaming – and quite frankly completely sociable – deer. I even managed to take a selfie with one. The food was incredible, some of the best oysters I have ever had.
Near the end of the trip we had a guest speaker that gave us a riveting lecture on nuclear weapons and his views on the future of nuclear power. The quality of the research and background he provided was worth more than can be measured. Hopefully those who also travel to Hiroshima will take away the same message: that all life is precious and nuclear weapons should in fact be fully reconsidered as a device to be used. Ultimately, Hiroshima was by far the most interesting aspect of my study abroad experience and can be yours too. (Written by Chris)
The students also took an excursion to Miyajima to see the famous Itsukushima Shrine.