near the hypocenter (backlog flush #69 and travelog of hiroshima)travel

March 18, 2008

Travelog of the Moment
Running late but I wanted to get this in... sorry if some of the descriptions are rushed --
View of the palace from my hotel room in Hiroshima. Not bad! But I wasn't brilliant at managing my time that day (too much walking, and anxiety at making it to the train station) so I didn't go for a tour there.

I walked to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. This is women attending to the Memorial Cenotaph.

I then went to the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall. Some moving stuff there, giving the background and results of what happened in an even-handed manner that makes it even more wrenching. This is a large (oh jeez, I was going to say "blown up") panoramic view a few weeks after the blast.

A model of before the blast...

...and after

After every nuclear test, the mayor of Hiroshima writes to the leaders of that country urging them to stop such tests and strive for nuclear disarmament.

The nuclear powers...each of the large missiles represents a large number of missiles. I was also struck by the "globe on its side" view, useful since all the nuclear players seem to be in the Northern Hemisphere.

A full size reproduction of a shattered building. They had some more gruesome reproductions of horribly burned victims walking through the ruins...

One word I hadn't heard before my time in Hiroshima: "hypocenter", a strict word for "ground zero". This is a smaller model of the city, with a red ball indicating where the blast occurred. (One letter made reference to girls watching the parachute, which seems such a human thing to do, and that would be the last thing they would see.)

Model of Little Boy.

Hiroshima Rooftiles... the sign says you can touch, and reassures you they are safe.

The Memorial Park is laid out in a line; I'm in the museum, there's the cenotaph, the eternal flame, and the atomic dome.

I then decided to walk to the Museum of Contemporary Art. I admit my bias about art and culture, the present usually catches my attention more than the past.

Yet another vending machine. With some of these machines and in convenience stores, coffee in can comes hot or cold.

Gas station. Gas is very expensive, about 6 bucks a gallon (though America is working its way up there.) I was kind of struck by the high-mounted gas hoses, but I guess that was just a quirk of this place. Also, highway tolls work out to be about a buck a kilometer!

Walking on my own, I'd take reflection shots, a kind of "dude! YOU'RE IN JAPAN" reminder to maintain a sense of wonder and observation.

I was a bit surprised what a climb the museum turned out to be...

The city below, with a cemetery nearer.

I haven't put TOO much "Engrish" here, as it seems uncharitable; I'm grateful for all the English they provide. (Actually I realize I start to take Romaji (transcription into the Latin alphabet) and odd English words for granted, its so prevalent that when it almost seems more striking when it's not there.)

I couldn't take photos of the temporary exhibition. But I think this work was "Atomic Dome Model 5", an obvious reference.

Heh, ok, less artsy. Just a note, Japanese public restrooms tend to have full doors, like little closets, and Josh mentioned Japanese visitors to the USA tend not to like our half-walled stalls. I can see that!

In the permanent exhibit, Venus Bleue by Yves Klen was SO very blue. I guess they had to put her in glass or everyone would touch.

There were so many attendants (guards? what's the term) sitting so still and quietly that it struck me as a form of performance art itself.

Ugh, don't have time to look up this yellow guy, but a variety of works featuring him (it's some kind of radiation suit, and this is him supposedly in Chernobyl) were the center of the temporary exhibit.

Outside, "Little Bird".

Woman taking photo of some cats.

Another view of a cemetery. I'm struck by how much they resemble model cities.

Also way up in the same park: a Manga Library! I had no idea they would have libraries just for that form, it seemed pretty busy in there.

Inside the library, they had what I assumed were the winners of a local single panel manga contest. Here is a Japanese view of MLB taking away Japanese players:

I had an easier time descending when I found this giant escalator.

More names a native speaker of English might not pick:

A few places (like a train station barber shop) I've seen this idea: a tall glass window will return some privacy by a carefully placed painted section. It works surprisingly well.

I just liked this billboard as I walked back to Hiroshima station.

The poster reminded me I wasn't having enough fruit this trip! So I bought a bag of something that might be clementines.... maybe something different? They had a certain, sharper, "cactus-y" tone, just subtly different.

Oh, Hiroshima. I'm sorry what you had to go through, and how that mighty mushroom cloud might influence some of your public art, but... this looks like a butt.

The sleek nose of a bullet train.

For being a country known for working well on a small scale, I've seen more impressive cavernous indoor spaces this trip... this is Kyoto station.


Finally, this poster (I'm still not sure if Porta is the shopping center or what) had many slogans in English: "Catching my breath for this good taste.", "Delicious stuff is all around here.", "Things I want to have-there are a lot of them here", "I have found my favorite thing.", "I'm in a good mood, full of joy.", and "Pleasure to find something." I guess that's the power of positive thinking!