I had the opportunity last week. Yes I know I’ve been very bad about posting. Sorry new country, nerves, getting used to things and stuff. This particular post has been a long time in the making. Since we found out that Hiroshima was where we were headed, Adam and I have wanted to visit the peace park.
Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the peace festival. It’s an all day ceremony (festival is probably a too happy sounding description) attended by school children, locals, and foreigners alike. In fact, I have to say that it’s probably the most foreigners I’ve been around with the exception of my jet training.
I suppose the fact that I am an American gives me a unique perspective on this particular festival. I’m not going to say much more than to simply say it was a difficult experience. Many more words than that, I feel, would cheapen my telling of the experience.
The main focus of the ceremony is the release of several thousand paper lanterns down the river that runs through and along the peace park. Sorry that my pictures are during the daytime. I had a bus to catch and work the next morning.
There are tents set up practically everywhere where you can dedicate your own lantern to any number of things. My Japanese is limited, so I didn’t attempt that hurdle. Once they begin to release the lanterns it’s non stop. Boats sit in the center of the river and release them in a constant stream. People jostled and vied for the best places to take pictures with both the lanterns and the bomb dome. I did this with limited success. I’m not a photographer.
By far the most difficult and difficult sight was the line leading up to the memorial. It stretched from the start of the park to the memorial itself. Adults, holding flowed or simply their own thoughts, waited while children ran and played oblivious to the meaning. I watched the steam of people for quite some time.
Something I’ve begun to notice even in my first few weeks here is that Japanese people will rarely ever be overtly rude, but believe me they notice you. They don’t even have to stare.
I was definitely noticed here, and had I known the protocol, I would have joined the line. I don’t want to be political. That isn’t the point of this blog. No matter what your personal beliefs are, however, there is just no way you can stand there and not feel the weight of everything.