West Into The Rising Sun | The 50 Zone Magazine : Mens Information On Wellness, Health, Weight Loss, Nutrition, Women, Style And Fashion


West into the Rising Sun

by Ken Eddy

Japan, land of the rising sun, a country of contrast, steeped in history that seems to contradict the futuristic side of the country.

August 2009 I found myself standing in front of the Hiroshima City Hall trying desperately to take a picture of the Hinomarus (Japanese flag). I say desperately, due to the fact that it was a sweltering 40 degrees Celsius, and not a breath of wind in the air. The flag just hung there, like it too, could feel the humid mid-day heat and just needed to rest.

Giving up my quest for the perfect shot, I shuffled back to the hotel and the relief of air conditioning. As I entered the hotel I practically ran head on into Dr. David Suzuki. Caught off guard I blurted out “David” as if I knew him personally. He stopped and stared at me for a second that then said, “You must be Canadian”. Well “duh”, I wonder what gave it away! The Canadian accent and the fact that I had a t-shirt with CANADA written across the front or the maple leaf on my hat? Of course it could have been the fact that I am six feet tall, poster child for a WASP, and sweating like a horse? Choose anyone of the above and Doc nailed it. We chatted briefly as he had to run to an awaiting van and vanished. (I always thought he was taller).

My good friend and travel companion, Leo Bruneau, was reluctant to leave the comfort of the AC, but nevertheless, I dragged him out to what would be, one of the major mind-blowing adventures of the trip.

We ventured a few blocks to a rather large park in the middle of the city that is made up of an island and a fork in two rivers.

The busy street filled with people became even busier as we approached the park. Once in the park we were immersed in a sea of humanity. There were thousands of people filling this huge park. I was thinking that this just can’t be a normal day in Hiroshima City Park and it definitely was not. It was on this very site 64 years ago, August 6, 1945, that the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped during World War II.

The scene that unfolded is hard to describe but I will do my best.

There were News crews from around the world, peace activists from every continent, flowers and wreaths, all engulfed in a deathly silence. We worked our way down the park toward the fork in the river, and on the far bank were the remains of a building, notably called the Atomic Dome (not its official name of course). Picture a round dome approximately six stories high with concrete sides and half the top missing. Some iron girders and supports were all that kept it from completely collapsing.

The allies targeted a bridge at a river crossing a few hundred yards away and the bomb was detonated prior to it actually hitting the ground for optimum effect, and that it had, virtually incinerating everything around it for hundreds of yards. Why this Atomic Dome was not completed obliterated remains a mystery.

Surrounding the Dome, were hundreds of people making and placing decorative memorial candles on the hedge that circles the building. Others were making paper lanterns approximately 12 inches high by 8 inches in diameter with a stand at middle/bottom for a small candle to be perched.

These reddish paper lanterns were being lit and set into the slow moving current by dignitaries, citizens, and yes, I even spotted David setting one adrift on the far bank. To view thousands of lanterns slowly floating with the current while surrounded by such a large mass of humanity watching in silence, was quite a spectacle. Even the occasional orchestra performance couldn’t break the spell.

Now I cannot fail to mention the cute little Japanese woman who was holding up a sign reading “Free Hugs”. I thought it was the Canadian thing to do and I accepted one (at that point I needed one).

Fast forward three days. Leo and I find ourselves in Nagasaki. Anyone who follows history will know the significance of this city, as it was here at 11:02 on August 9, 1945, that the world’s second atomic bomb was dropped.

Leo, myself and a young student from Tokyo, who we recruited to be our translator (I have to mention that English is not as widely spoken in Japan as you would think), were observing a moment of silence in a park prior to the Prime Minister of Japan reading an address.

To my right were two little old ladies (guessing 80ish) dressed in black and sitting on two lawn chairs. I asked our interpreter to inquire if they had been here during that time period and they said yes, they were in a factory not too far away making bombs for the Japanese military.

Prior to, and during World War II, the Japanese parliament was dominated by the military and despite the turn of events in the war, was not in the mood to surrender to the allies, who had just battled their way across two islands, Iwo Jima and Konawa, at a cost of thousands of lives on both sides.

It was estimated at the time that it would cost one million allied lives to take the main islands of Japan and that was the main reason that President Harry Truman decided to use the bomb in an effort to end the war once and for all. After the second blast in Nagasaki, Emperor Hirohito surrendered unconditionally to the allies.

During my tour of Japan I only spotted three Japanese flags. Why I wondered, would there not be more of these Hinomarus flapping in the wind across the country? Research has taught me that not all Japanese respect the Hinomarus since it has a military background and it reminds them of the horror of war!

Never again do they want the military to control the government.

Never again do they want to experience such atrocities, agony, and loss of life.

Never again should another bomb be dropped.

Never again!

Author: Ken Eddy



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