Kyou wa, Peter-san wa Doko?

Where's Peter Today?

15th Oct 2004: Day 9-- Hiroshima

We arrived at Hiroshima station and got off. The first port of call was the World famous Peace Memorial Park, with the Atomic Bomb Dome building. Looking around it was hard to believe what had happened here. The remains of the Industrial Promotion Hall that had been directly below the detonation that August day looked like it had been transplanted there. It was about lunchtime and not far off the conditions of that fateful day, a clear and cloudless sky… I tried to imagine what it would have looked like, to have a new and brilliant sun appear 600m directly above me and instantaneously destroy the city. It was incomprehensible--the sun shone, the trees swayed in the wind and the birds chattered.

The reality of the events were brought rather too vividly to life by the museum. I had been prepared for the displays of burned and melted artefacts, such as watches, bottles and so on but I was not prepared for the reconstructions of the scenes and the graphic details of the survivors eye-witness recollections. It only served to make me feel very uneasy about being British, one of the nations fingered as being a modern nuclear state. What really worried me was that this level of destruction had been reeked by a device many times more feeble than those currently sitting in silos around Britain and in the submarines I've seen sailing out of the Scottish bases. Suddenly, the mere idea of possessing these things really did seem like lunacy, let alone actually using them...

Outside the Atomic Bomb Dome, groups of school kids were conducting surveys of visitors. They asked questions about why we were in Japan and did we like it here. Ominously, they asked if we thought that the World was a safe place and whether we thought our own countries were peaceful. I had to admit that Britain had been involved in quite a lot of trouble over the last 60-odd years. The pair of kids then gave me a paper crane as a gift.

We visited the memorial to Sasaki Sadako, a 12 year old girl who died 10 years after the explosion from radiation-induced leukaemia. Sasaki believed that if she could fold 1000 cranes, she would be cured. When she completed the first 1000 and continued to get worse, she started on a second 1000 but died before she could finish. Her class-mates completed the remainder and since then school children from all over Japan make paper origami cranes and bring them here to remember the victims of the bomb. I left the crane I had been given to Sasaki and the thousands of others who had perished at 8:15 on the morning of August 6th 1945.

As a special "treat" I'd left this night free on the plan and we arrived in Hiroshima with no hotel booked, the plan being to find a capsule hotel...

If you've never stayed in a capsule hotel before, prepare to be amazed! While it is true that the "room" is a coffin sized hole in the wall, what you aren't told is that there are plenty of other facilities on hand. Each floor had a shared washing area, with hairdryers, basins and so on for brushing your teeth and what-not. There were the toilets, complete with heated seats… and then there were the baths. Massive public baths where you wash and then soak in a variety of hot baths, warm baths , cold baths and Jacuzzis. This particular capsule hotel's speciality was a big sauna. For those who are not into the bath / spa thing, there was also a big TV lounge and numerous vending machines for snacks.

The capsule itself was pretty comfy. The floor was in fact sprung, like a mattress. There was a mini TV, radio and an alarm clock. If you're a light sleeper it might be a problem as drunken businessmen stagger about the place at 1am and there's only a straw roller blind to separate you from the corridor.

Of course the main attraction is the fact that the capsule hotels are in the "playground" district, and the idea is that you leave work, have fun in town, get tanked and stay the night in your capsule before going back to work! A small shop in the reception of the hotel sold spare shirts and ties to save you the embarrassment of returning to work in yesterday's clothes!

Jump To:


Prepare For Take-Off

Day 1 -- Tokyo

Day 2 -- Mikawa-Anjo

Day 3 -- Nagoya

Day 4 -- Suzuka F1

Day 5 -- Kyoto

Day 6 -- Kyoto

Day 7-- Himeji Castle

Day 8 -- Kurashiki

Day 9 -- Hiroshima

Day 10 -- Nagasaki

Day 11 -- Nagasaki

Day 12 -- Kagoshima

Day 13 -- Kagoshima

Day 14 -- Tokyo

Day 15 -- Tokyo

Day 16 -- Tokyo

Homeward Bound

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