During 3 weeks from March 6, JICA Chugoku had accepted Miss Nattacha Paksung from Thailand who is studying at the Graduate School of Engineering, Hiroshima University, as an internship student. The following is her report on her accompanying visitors on the Hiroshima Peace Study.
This time, long-term participants from JICA Yokohama came to visit Hiroshima during March 16-18, 2017. The participants are from 12 countries in Asia and Africa coming for their postgraduate studies in 6 universities around Yokohama area. In order to promote global peace awareness, they attended the “Hiroshima Peace Study”, in which they had visited many places related to the A-bomb tragedy . We would like to introduce you how it was like during the course.
【Peace Memorial Museum】
On the first day, the participants made a visit at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they could learn the history of World Wor II, the ruins of Hiroshima after the A-bomb explosion, and the restoration of the town. Before we got into an exhibition hall, we received an audio guide and a postcard as a souvenir. This postcard is made of recycled paper from paper cranes. As such, it is not only valuable in terms of environment but also expresses a value of the world peace as well.
Inside the exhibition hall, there was the A-bomb artifacts and materials displayed in order to convey what had happened in the incident. Some of the participants said that they do not understand why a war exists and felt upset by knowing how suffering it was. Some of them even felt astonished when they realized that all the particles exhibited here are real. Unluckily, some part of the exhibition was under renovation during the visit.
【Awesome Rise from the Ashs】
After getting some ideas from the visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the participants had a chance to learn much deeper about the restoration though a lecture on “Hiroshima’s recovery” by Ms. Kobayashi Yoko. From the lecture, we learned that Hiroshima could revive their facilities such as water and electricity within a few days after the A-bomb. The tram was also re-started running again. The bank was operated without the necessity of any bank passbooks. Moreover, not only Hiroshima, but the support was also from the whole Japan and foreign countries in order to identify Hiroshima as a “city of peace” instead of a “military city”. Participants could now perceive that this tragedy is not to be forgotten, whereas the world peace is to be emphasized.
Moreover, the participants received a comic book called “Hiroshima’s Revival”, which tells a story how people had contributed to recover Hiroshima after the war.
At the end of this day, the participants visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, in which the museum is a part of it. In the park, there are many memorial monuments that were built in remembrance of the Hibakusha of the A-bomb.
We first walked to see the “Hiroshima peace city memorial”. The design expresses a roof that protects souls of the Hibakusha from rain. Looking through the roof, the A-bomb dome can be seen.
“A-bomb dome” is universally well-known as it was registered as an UNESCO world heritage site. The participants took some memorial photos together here with the dome.
Next, we visited the “Children’s Peace Monument” which was built to mourn for all the children who had died from the A-bomb initiated by the death of Sasaki Sadako. Sadako was two years old when the bomb was dropped and ten years later she died by leukemia. Before her death, she believed that if she could fold a thousand of paper cranes, she would be recovered. Unfortunately, her wish did not come true. After that, the paper cranes became a symbol of peace.
The second day started by visiting Mazda museum. Mazda is a famous brand of a Japanese car maker originated in Hiroshima. The participants could learn about the history of car making and also observe the car manufacturing in a real factory.
At the lobby hall of the museum, there was variety of Mazda cars from the past to the present exhibited. Nothing could stop the participants from taking photos with those fancy cars.
Talking about how Mazda contributed in Hiroshima’s recovery, at that time Mazda continued the production of a three-wheel car, which is used during the recovery. The museum presented the history of Mazda through a short movie.
Later, we learned about how a car is made and how the technology is advanced from the exhibition. Eventually, we could also observe the real factory and the production. It is said that Mazda could produce 1,000 cars per day.
At lunch, the participants could enjoy making “Hiroshima Okonomiyaki” by themselves. The Okonomiyaki here is unique because noodles (soba or udon) are contained inside. After the war, Hiroshima was lack of food. People made use of “Merikenko”, which means white flour imported from US, mixed it with anything they like (available at the time) and then grilled. This later became “Okonomiyaki”, which literally means grill of anything you prefer.
Before starting, the participants had to wear a net cap and an apron for their hygiene. Then we made our own Okonomiyaki on a large hot plate (Teppan). All the participants seemed enjoyed it very much. Especially, the Okonomiyaki sauce contained ingredients that every participant can eat. So that no pork and alcohol sauce was used in the cooking, so as everyone could enjoy the food regardless of the religions. We also got one bottle of the Okonomiyaki sauce back home before leaving.
【As the City of Peace】
To understand deeper on what happened to Hiroshima during WWII, the participants attended a lecture on “Hiroshima and Peace: Inhumanity of war and Inhumanity of nuclear weapon” by Prof. Kazumi Mizumoto from Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima City University. First of all, Prof. Mizumoto asked some questions to the participants, for example, “what peace means in your understanding?” and “what do you think is the opposite word of peace?”. The answers were diverse because people’s backgrounds are different. Prof. Mizumoto explained that the answers reflected the experiences that each participant had. This was such a nice ice breaking before the lecture started.
The lecture was about the history and some criticisms. After the lecture, the participants enthusiastically gave comments and questions regarding the context. For example, “How Hiroshima identified itself as a “city of peace” when its image of military city might still remain from outsiders’ view?” The answer for this question was “It is difficult to change the identity completely. However, Hiroshima had made many contributions to prove that and eventually made it possible”.
Lastly, Prof. Mizumoto showed some songs related to peace and sang along. The lecture was really impressive and interesting.
At last, the participants visited Shukkeien, which is a historical Japanese garden in Hiroshima city. It was destroyed by the A-bomb in WWII, but restored to its previous condition. On the day, we had volunteer guides introduced us the garden. The garden was very huge and scenic. There was a big pond inside the garden and inside the ponds were many carps swimming around. The guide prepared some fish feed for the participants to give to the carps. Seemingly they had a lot of fun. More than that, plum flowers were blooming during our visit, which made the garden even more beautiful.
From these two days of accompanying the Hiroshima Peace Study, I have learned a lot together with the participants. Firstly, I had prepared myself to be a good host by reading the “Hiroshima’s revival” book to get enough information to guide them. While I was reading, I found many facts about Hiroshima that I had never known before. I felt both astonished and impressed at the same time. It was such a good opportunity for me to accompany this activity that I could gain my experience as well. I am certain that what we have learned from this activity would help us in contributing for the world peace in some ways.