August 9, 1945.

While Japan was still trying to comprehend the devastation that hit Hiroshima on August 6th, the United States struck again three days later, only this time, on Nagasaki.

August 9, 1945. 

Another devastating day in history for the Japanese. On August 9th, another B-29, Bock’s Car, dropped the atomic bomb “Fat Man” over the city of Nagasaki. Nagasaki was not chosen as the primary target for this bombing, but fate and weather brought about its undoing. Clocks stopped at 11:02am. This atomic bomb was meant to be much stronger than the one previously dropped on Hiroshima, but the terrain of Nagasaki prevented it from causing so much damage. Yet, the decimation was still unbelievably horrific!

Both Hiroshima’s and Nagasaki’s atomic bomb museums and peace parks prompt visitors to consider the importance of peace. A Japanese couple had once asked us, while roaming around Nagasaki’s peace park, “how does this make you feel?” And to be honest, I couldn’t come up with an immediate answer. There’s something strange about being able to say that you have visited and explored these cities’ heartbreaking pasts. Yet, no matter how many times you visit these memorial sites, I really don’t think that just one word can describe all the mixed feelings and thoughts of actually being there and seeing those things. Is it inappropriate to be excited because you are exploring this piece of devastating history? Are you ashamed or embarrassed because you come from the country that caused this? Are you saddened? Surprised? Uncomfortable?

Often and frequently, while walking around historical areas in Japan, quite a few Japanese share a piece of their life with us and usually how it relates to the sites we are exploring. Many are okay now with opening up and recalling these stories and stories from 1945, and I find them very intriguing, but when it comes to our turn to answer questions or share how we feel, how do you respond?

Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

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Entrance to the museum.
Nagasaki before the bombing.
Nagasaki before the bombing.
Wall clock that was found in a house near Sanno Shinto Shrine in Nakamoto-machi, about 800m from the hypocenter. The clock was shattered by the blast and its hands stopped at 11:02- the moment of the explosion.
Wall clock that was found in a house near Sanno Shinto Shrine in Nakamoto-machi, about 800m from the hypocenter. The clock was shattered by the blast and its hands stopped at 11:02- the moment of the explosion.
Water tank with contorted legs from Keiho Middle School (site of present-day Nagasaki Nishi High School) about 800m from the hypocenter.
Water tank with contorted legs from Keiho Middle School (site of present-day Nagasaki Nishi High School) about 800m from the hypocenter.
Part of the spiral staircase attached to the west wall of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Steel Works office building in Mori-machi, about 1.1km south of the hypocenter.
Part of the spiral staircase attached to the west wall of the Mitsubishi Nagasaki Steel Works office building in Mori-machi, about 1.1km south of the hypocenter.

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the bomb

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Replica of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
Replica of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.Cam 4 046
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Stockpiles of nuclear weapons around the world.

a small glimpse into the aftermath

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glass splinter retrieved from a survivor’s body
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leather belt
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the bones of a hand in glass
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stained glass
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clay hardened like rock
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Shadow left by the heat rays: The blocking of light creates shadows. The heat generated by the atomic bomb gave rise to a similar phenomenon. The surfaces exposed directly to heat rays burned and changed color but the unexposed areas retained their original color, thus creating shadow-like images. In this way, the instantaneous flash of heat branded the scenes of 11:02 a.m. on walls and other surfaces throughout Nagasaki.

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Human injuries caused by radiation: 

“The radiation released by the explosion of the atomic bomb penetrated human bodies and destroyed cells in various tissues. The extent of injuries depends on the radiation dose, but the vast majority of all people within one kilometer from the hypocenter died. Since this includes people without external injuries, it shows the destructive capacity of radiation. The damages caused by the atomic bomb did not end at the moment of the explosion. The radiation inflicted deep internal injuries that gave rise to various symptoms in subsequent years. The radiation injuries inflicted that summer of 1945 continue to this day to cause suffering.”

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Relief efforts.

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appeals of the atomic bomb survivors

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Colorful peace signs inside and outside, made of tiny paper cranes.
Colorful peace signs inside and outside, made of tiny paper cranes.

The Remembrance Hall

The Remembrance Hall is a quiet sanctuary where people may silently mourn for the victims of the atomic bombing and make prayers for peace.

  • Glass Pillars: There are 12 illuminated glass pillars in the Remembrance Hall. The upper sections of these pillars form the outside walls of a sky light, the center portion of which may be opened . The pillars are positioned so that they form a line which points towards the place where the atomic bomb exploded. Their illuminated forms symbolize calls for peace going out to the skies of the world.
  • Registry Shelf for the Names of Atomic Bombing Victims: (Height: 9m; No. of shelves: 27; Capacity of each shelf: 9 volumes). The names of the atomic bombing are kept here. In front of the shelf is a low table where people may lay flower arrangements or paper cranes in tribute to those who passed away. The outer structure is made of glass and the steel-framed inner shelves open semi-automatically. The registry volumes are stored in boxes which maintain their pristine condition by keeping them from ultraviolet light and moisture. The number of atomic bomb victims registered by Nagasaki City, as of August 9, 2012, is 158,754 (recorded in 159 volumes).
  • Details on the interior of the Remembrance Hall: The concrete of the walls of the Hall were hand-pressed with cedar panels, giving the surface an uneven and varied texture. The cedar rings are meant to convey a sense of history and the passing of time. There are wood benches that line both sides of the hall where you are free to sit.
  • Laying flowers in the Remembrance Hall: Any groups can hold flower-layering ceremonies inside the Hall if they wish. We actually witnessed one during one of our visits here.
The Remembrance Hall
The Remembrance Hall
Cranes lining the sides of the Hall.
Cranes lining the sides of the Hall.

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(Taken outside, directly above the Hall). The hypocenter of the atomic bombing is approximately 250m from this point.

Nagasaki Peace Park

This park holds many monuments that reach out to inform the world of the horror of the atomic bombing, raising awareness to appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and for the eventual realization of lasting world peace between countries. It is also designated as a zone to pray for world peace and mourn the victims who died in this tragic event.

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Paper cranes seen hanging around many of the monuments.

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Thousands of paper cranes together on strings.
Thousands of paper cranes together on strings.
A Monument for Korean Atomic Victims: This monument is dedicated to the more than 10,000 Koreans who were victims of the Nagasaki bombing. The Japanese apologize to Korea and the Koreans for the immeasurable suffering that the Japanese inflicted upon them during the tragic years of 1910-1945; threatening them with the sword and gun, colonizing and annexing their peninsula, bringing them against their will to Japan and abusing them in slavery and for the catastrophic way they died in the bombing.
A Monument for Korean Atomic Victims: This monument is dedicated to the more than 10,000 Koreans who were victims of the Nagasaki bombing. Through this monument, the Japanese apologize to Korea and the Koreans for the immeasurable suffering that the Japanese inflicted upon them during the tragic years of 1910-1945; threatening them with the sword and gun, colonizing and annexing their peninsula, bringing them against their will to Japan and abusing them in slavery, and for the catastrophic way they died in the bombing.
This monument expresses the horror of the bombing, "prays for the repose of the souls of the victims from whose noble sacrifice the buds of peace grew, and -through the form of a stricken  child sleeping in her mother's warm embrace- reaches with great motherly compassion and pleas for eternal peace towards a prosperous Japan of the 21st century." Embodied in the monument is the sculptor's reminder that the child is like Japan on the day of the atomic bombing, while the mother represents the support provided by the countries of the world in Japan's efforts to build the peaceful nation that it has become today.
This monument expresses the horror of the bombing, “prays for the repose of the souls of the victims from whose noble sacrifice the buds of peace grew, and -through the form of a stricken child sleeping in her mother’s warm embrace- reaches with great motherly compassion and pleas for eternal peace towards a prosperous Japan of the 21st century.” Embodied in the monument is the sculptor’s reminder that the child is like Japan on the day of the atomic bombing, while the mother represents the support provided by the countries of the world in Japan’s efforts to build the peaceful nation that it has become today.
Hypocenter. The atomic bomb exploded above this point on the ground.
Hypocenter. The atomic bomb exploded above this point on the ground.
Many school trips are taken to this now historical area in Nagasaki for groups of children to study, learn, and experience first hand about their past.
Many school trips are taken to this now historical area in Nagasaki for groups of children to study, learn, and experience first hand about their past.

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Stone Lanterns at Shotokuji Temple that were the only pieces that remained from this temple.
One of two stone lanterns from Shotokuji Temple that were the only pieces that remained from this temple.
This statue entitled, "Hymn to Live," was donated by a city in Italy as a memorial to that city's participation in the 1st World Conference of Mayor for Peace through inter-city solidarity. The statue which depicts a mother holding her baby high in the air with both hands, is an expression of love and peace.
This statue entitled, “Hymn to Live,” was donated by a city in Italy as a memorial to that city’s participation in the 1st World Conference of Mayor for Peace through inter-city solidarity. The statue which depicts a mother holding her baby high in the air with both hands, is an expression of love and peace.

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"Protection of Our Future:" This was presented by a city in The Netherlands. The statue shows a mother protecting her infant-child from danger representing that we must protect not only the present generation but also the coming generation as well so that the people of the world can see peace together.
“Protection of Our Future:” This was presented by a city in The Netherlands. The statue shows a mother protecting her infant-child from danger. It’s representing that we must protect not only the present generation but also the coming generation as well so that the people of the world can see peace together.
This remain shows a part of the wall which surrounded the Urakami Branch of Nagasaki Prison which was located here when the A-bomb exploded.
This remain shows a part of the wall which surrounded the Urakami Branch of Nagasaki Prison which was located here when the A-bomb exploded.
Nagasaki Prison Urakami Branch Prison: The Urakami Branch Prison was the closest public facility to the hypocenter. The explosion killed all 134 employees and residents, convicts, and accused prisoners. The 4m high, 0.25 m-thick reinforced concrete surrounding wall collapsed near the base, and the wooden buildings burned to ashes. Only the kitchen chimney remained standing.
Nagasaki Prison Urakami Branch Prison: The Urakami Branch Prison was the closest public facility to the hypocenter. The explosion killed all 134 employees and residents, convicts, and accused prisoners. The 4m high, 0.25 m-thick reinforced concrete surrounding wall collapsed near the base, and the wooden buildings burned to ashes. Only the kitchen chimney remained standing.
The famous peace statue.
The famous peace statue.
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The bronze statue is 9.7m high, sitting on a 3.9m base, and weighs some 30 tons. It is said that the statue’s right hand is raised upward to point to the threat of nuclear weapons, while the horizontally extended left hand symbolizes peace. The gently closed eyes are said to offer a prayer for the repose of the bomb victims’ souls. The face does not look Japanese because it is a “person who goes beyond human races.”
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“Monument of Peoples Friendship:” Dedicated from the German Democratic Republic symbolizing the efforts for peace and a happy future of mankind, and for the friendship among the peoples.

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Fountain of Peace.

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Lindsay View All →

Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!

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