To start this off, I’ll just say without going into detail, that when you travel things might not go as your timeline was scheduled. Especially when you are changing time zones. For example getting to the airport on the 12th leaving on the 13th and arriving on the 14th… 3 days of travel just to get to Japan… What! So To get to Kyushu, I flew into Nagasaki; which is about an hour train ride to downtown. Initially I was going to go straight to Fukuoka, but my mom had a friend in Nagasaki and she suggested that I meet up with her.
Before I was able to meet my new friend Jan, I had enough time to drop my bag at my hostel and check out the Atomic Bomb Museum and Peace Park in Nagasaki. The museum is dedicated to building awareness of the power and devastation of nuclear weapons and war, as well as the support of peace between nations to achieve global harmony. Upon observing the pictures, artifacts and stories, the power of such a weapon became so clear. From the hypocenter, everything with in about 2km was completely vaporized. Flesh Stripped from bones from the air being heated instantly. Soil heated and became like lava for an instant before reconstituting and turning solid. Within seconds, the blast sent a shock wave to about 11km; bending steel, turning wood structures to toothpicks, and shattering windows. The bombs were said to be dropped to save thousands of American soldiers. However I believe the numbers were that 70% of the casualties of the bomb in Nagasaki were women, children and elderly. This act was an attack on humanity itself. It’s hard to believe that the effects of this weapon were used twice. While visiting the museum and the park there was at least 20 different groups of elementary school children on field trips to the museum.
In the Peace Park, there is the famous peace statue along with many other statues donated by different countries as a sign of peace with Japan in support of their hope of ridding the world of atomic weapons and creating harmony between nations.
After visiting the Peace Park I was able to meet up with Jan and she showed me around the wharf. We went to a restored historic sight called Dejima. What used to be the only island where they first let foreigners come in and do trade when Japan was still an isolationist country. It showed a lot of the history of the trade between Japan and the Dutch. Then, we went in to a local restaurant that she frequents whenever she’s downtown. It was a cozy little restaurant whose chef was a musician who played many many different instruments. I asked him about his hand pan and he asked me to play it a bit as he played bamboo flute, mouth harp, slide whistle, and did some Mongolian throat singing. It was just the kind of experience I was hoping for in Japan; walking into a place and chatting in my broken Japanese about common interests and having a great time. Thanks to Jan for suggesting such a cool place.
Next, Jan and I went to the bar in town where her son works and had some drinks.
When traveling abroad, it is important to make new friends and break through cultural barriers. it will dispel the mystery and fear in ourselves that grows hate and instead grows peace and harmony. I believe it was a monk from a far off land called Drunkeros who said that “strangers are just good friends you haven’t made yet.”