Katie in Japan – post #3

Blog #3

On the train from Sendai Station, we transferred in Tokyo to another train to Hiroshima. On the train while looking out the window, it’s possible to take in the spaces beyond your reach. Sometimes it feels like you’re in the car or on the bus. Then you enter a tunnel and you realize just how quickly you were going all along. That’s how this trip has felt. One minute I think I’m taking it all in and time feels normal. Then I check the date and realize we’re halfway through and I feel there is so much more to see.

After leaving Fukushima I already felt this strange comfort, a sort of familiarity. Yet at the same time I began to feel this intense sense of urgency. I talked to a few people about it, we mulled over the philosophy that perhaps are minds become overwhelmed and must attached to a memory. A moment that feels like something else in our lives. Maybe this brings us peace or maybe it helps us connect the dots of our peculiar lives.

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I already know these intense and creative conversations will be something I miss greatly in my daily life. When you travel with people, I think a part of them also gets pressed into your passport. They become such a serious component of the entire journey. This group especially has taught me so much, the diversity that makes up our clan is a colorful gift. For example we were broken into groups to debrief specific parts of trips, mainly for us to relay our learnings to the group who traveled to Teshima. My group was given the simply complex topic of “themes of hope” specifically in Fukushima. The team I was a part of had representatives from Vietnam, Mexico, China, India and myself (originally from America). Our diverse ideas and cultural perspectives resulted in us laughing, learning and growing as a team. We adventured together and met people as a group. Leaving some of our guides in Namie Town, was also super hard. Its crazy how quickly our human minds can become attached.

Anyway, back to the narrative of the trip, the chronological order of events thus far includes;

Arriving in Narita

Heading to Fukushima (Toyoko – Sendai Station – Namie Town)

Left Fukushima (back to Sendai Station- Toyoko- Hiroshima)

Arrive in Hiroshima

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Arriving in Hiroshima, the sun was shining, it was around dinner time. The sun was sitting a little low behind the trees a bit. Our bus stopped right in front of the Peace Park, a historic site in Japan. This is the place where the a-dome stands, shattered and held slightly together in a way that makes you conscience of your breathing. The park is beautiful, full of people and a deafening silence. I walked around on my own for a bit before dinner, the odd time running into a member of my group. Saying simple things like, “wow this is sad.”or “can you imagine what it was like?”. I wondered if a place like this should exist? With rays of sun bouncing off the river, hitting the eyes of school children walking home from school. A memorial of what once was, what should never have been. I wrote a short poem in a moment, while standing in front of the dome. *disclaimer: I am not a poet; these are just thoughts from a moving moment*

I stood in the shade for a very long time

Thinking what a wicked awful crime

I thought about the blood shed and the tears cried

I thought about it for a very long time

I thought about what it used to be

And how it had been

When the trees bent and swayed in the wind

I looked upon the bricks and clay

And I wondered what it would be like to stay

To listen to the story, they will never say

And to be able to return to work another day

I sat and thought about it for a very long time

The spiral staircase reminded me of a back or a mothers spine

Had the pilots cried

Did they feel their lungs collapse like the building and its cracks

In the shade I sat

I thought about it and I thought it will forever be black

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The feeling I got from the peace park was so hard to understand. Especially after seeing the Children’s memorial, where a collection of origami cranes from all over the world are held. The thought of children dying, not just here but in other war-stricken areas made my eyes feel cold. Full of tears and my heart hurt. Children losing their moms, dads, sisters, brothers, pets and their own lives. We are not each other enemy, war is. This is something a very special lady would teach me.

One of favorite speakers, was a woman named Koko Kondo, a survivor of the Atomic bomb. Koko, small in statue, yet the largest life in the room. She fills the space with this joy and confidence. She told the story of how as a baby her parents saved her from the attack of the atomic bomb. Yet what was more moving was this idea that as a baby, she grew up in a destroyed town. A land of broken people and broken buildings. In her mind, this was really there was. She told us about the moments she encountered the co-pilot that dropped the bomb. Being just a small child, she recalls being filled with rage. Then discovery that our anger can not be placed on another person, but on the war itself. This idea that all the change or all the bad is the result of one leader or one political group, is so absurd. We all live here, and we all have a choice. Koko changed my mind on courage, gratitude and forgiveness.

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Were currently on the island of O Osaki Kamijima and my mind is overwhelmed with thoughts. There is so much beauty on this island, the people, the history, the landscape. I wish it was possible to captivate it all in a snow globe to show the rest of the world. For now, I suppose a blog post will have to do.

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