Echoes of Hiroshima

I think I decided I wanted to visit Hiroshima because the atomic bomb had been at the epicenter of the life of my violin teacher, Mr. Kaizuka. And for all that I put him through, I felt a sort of duty to go see it if I was in Japan. Mr. Kaizuka, himself, had rarely returned to Hiroshima except for medical treatments, so I guess maybe I was also curious to know why.

I took the train from Tokyo and got into Hiroshima in the evening and decided to hit the town and save the atomic bomb memorial sites for the next day. I was amazed at how developed it was as a city. Perhaps that was due to every young person wearing suits and the extensive shopping streets, but it just seemed to have a very strong business and consumer economy. It was also extremely walkable and yet filled with attractions and shops and not depressing at all. As a city, I liked it more than I did San Francisco. I was thinking about that as I walked through the Peace Park, where the memorial effort is focused. I appreciated the serenity of the park amidst the bustling city; school children were singing, birds were chirping, trees were swaying, people were strolling, I was taller than everyone. Life was good.

The next morning as I walked through the Peace Park, I was starting to wonder why Mr. Kaizuka had not spoken more about Hiroshima (or maybe why I had not thought to ask) when I heard the faint echo of an alarm. I immediately felt anxious, my eyes darting throughout the park trying to calm the rush of my heart. It seemed to be coming from everywhere but it started to amplify in the half dome in the center of the park, the symbolic coffin for the victims of the bomb. Perhaps, it was a reminder from those lost souls, but as my adrenaline subsided I realized what I had felt was real fear from an ambulance siren. Anywhere else, my instinct would have been just to stay out of the way of the ambulance, but for some reason, I felt scared. Conceivably a bit dramatic, it made me remember fear is real. And if the fear was real for me, I cannot imagine what the trauma must have been like for Mr. Kaizuka.

But as I walked around there, though the initial reaction was to acknowledge how top of mind the fear was, it almost made me appreciate how fragile and precarious life is and to treasure the moment even if it just a walk in the park.

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