When speaking about the atomic bomb, the first thing that comes into mind is normally Hiroshima, which was where the first ever civilian bombing using the atomic bomb, while many will remember that 2 bombs were dropped, Nagasaki sadly stands in the shadow when in comes to being recognised as one of the victims of the second bomb.
I’d like to state that before I continue, many people will justify the bombing by stating that the Japanese military also did a lot of terrible things; and although that is true, it still doesn’t take away the suffering that innocent people had to ensure in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki – I will leave it at that.
After our visit of Gunkanjima (Battleship) Island, we drove in search of food, but because Ms Buddha wasn’t feeling too well, we combined lunch and our next stop together and went directly to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum.
Parking is 100 yen and the car park is manned by a bunch (4 on the day we went) of very chatty and friendly old men – one who try to impress us with his English as he giggled away.
Once parked, you walk past one of the of peace monuments around the area – this one in particular caught my attention – it remembers the almost 9,000 students and over 100 teachers that were instantly killed in the initial blast and many more who died from the subsequent radiation with the hope that such incidences will never happen again.
Once inside the building, we found a cafe to have a bit of food – the sandwiches were surprisingly good given that most museum foods are generally pretty bad. While we ate, we had a good view of the man made waterfall that was part of the the museum.
Dotted around the museum are offerings and dedications for peace, with cranes being used. The reason why Paper Cranes are used came from the Japanese legend that if you fold a thousand cranes, the cranes spirit will grant you a wish, this was popularized by Sadako Sasaki’s experience of being an atomic bomb victim who developed leukemia as a result of radiation from the blast. Her story was recounted in the novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes which I read when I was in high school as part of Japanese class – I remember the story very fondly.
The entrance to the actual museum is down a circular ramp, kind of like entering a bunker, as you walk down, the crane theme continues.With one installation by MannaOri, a dutch paper folding artist – the installation looked like it was a thousand cranes from one piece of paper.
You buy the tickets at the very bottom of the ramp, and it costs 200 yen to enter, which in my opinion is reasonable given that they have to maintain and look after the place.
Once inside, the place gets a lot more solemn in that there are items from the explosion on display and also the remainders of structures. What is quite alarming is the power and effects of the blast, it was so strong that the metal frames of buildings were bent of out shape, while surprisingly smaller items survived.
A few displays actually hit me a bit hard inside because of the damage it did, one was of part of a tree where the impact from the blast was so strong that part of a ceramic bowl pierced the tree.
Other items also was quite hard to see for me, like the shadow of trees left on wood from the initial blast – the reason for the shadow was because it shielded the item from the blast.
Another interesting part of the museum was the map and demo of how the explosion happened, it is actually quite sad that Nagasaki didn’t actually become the victim of the bomb until the morning that the bomb was dropped. According to records, the bomb was suppose to be dropped somewhere else, but because of the weather, the plane diverted and bombed Nagasaki instead.
I tend looked for a map of the impact area and found that if we had stayed at the same hotel when the bomb was dropped, we would’ve been gone as well…
As I made my way along the rest of the museum, it was a sobering experience in that the displays also showed the affects of nuclear radiation on humans and also the development of nuclear warheads since the blast – and the “advancement” that countries continues to make (in inverted commas because advancing technology to do more harm to me doesn’t seem like much of an advancement at all).
To finish, there was a small model of the dome building that was right beneath the atomic bomb that was dropped onto Hiroshima.
I recall seeing this building in person for the first time – for some reason, I just started crying when looking at this building, knowing that innocents who had virtually no warning were wiped out in an instant.
There are many places to visit in Nagasaki, but this museum is definitely one of those places you should visit whether you’re a history buff or not.