The Next Step: part ten - on the hill

You take the tram up to Matsushima and the park is just across the road. Up the stairs and the first thing you see is the fountain. Two symmetrical curves, symbolising a crane, spray up into the air. The inscription below is from the diary of a child, about how she had the most incredible thirst but all the water was nothing but oil to her, yet she wanted to drink, but it was just like oil The fountain is for all the children, that they may have as much water as they need.

Something like 70 percent of the victims were children, women and the elderly. It is true that Nagasaki was the second target, that smoke and cloud cover saved Kokura, and that there was a big arms factory in the harbour. Such weapons dont discriminate between buildings and children.

Past the fountain you can see the statue. He points one hand toward where the bomb fell, the other is held out in a peaceful gesture. He is strong, so that he might fight if needed, but his eyes are closed because he is restive and peaceful. One leg is stretched out on his mission, the other folded in meditation. He reminds us what happened with one hand, and asks us to do our part to prevent it happening again.

But we only see him from a distance, before that we walk through the park and all around are peace monuments donated from all over the world. And even after that we walk over the remains of what used to be a prison nothing left but the charred remains of the foundations.

Then you come up on the statue and he is even bigger than you thought.

Stand and think, stand and consider.

The museum nearby is reached by walking through the hypocentre park. A single slab of black stone marks the spot, standing strong and silent. Vigilant. It is a quiet place, the area circular. At the edge is the 50th anniversary monument, a mother and a child. Again, stand and consider the horror that fell from that summer sky. It might have been a day like the day you are there, it might not, but you couldnt imagine what it would have been like and then, then you pray you never have to know.

A smaller and more understated exercise than its cousin in Hiroshima, it tells a sadly similar story. It is scarcely believable, however the necessity to remind the world that such a thing happened no one can deny that. The overwhelming message is that such a fate should never have to befall another soul.

Let it be, but never forget. Something like that.

It always makes me sad, heavy in spirit. Thats why I left it to the end of the day. It was growing dark as I headed to the port to check ferry times for the next day and after that I decided to head up the cable car to the mountain to check out the night view. And it was special.

Nagasaki is not such a big city. You can see most of it in a day and it is genuinely a nice place to be, a nice place to look at. Two things rare enough in Japan as it is, and it is a pity you have to go all the way out to Nagasaki to find it in any big way. But it is there, waiting, for anyone who makes the trip.

I slept well that night.


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