Peace Memorial and Floating Torii Gate at Miyajima – Day 8 Recap
Our first stop today was the A-Bomb Dome. This is the closest building to epicenter of the bomb explosion that remained partially standing. We walked around the structure and slowly began to realize the tragedy that occurred here in 1945. After allowing some of the emotions to settle, we then made our way to the Peace Memorial Museum along with a flood of middle school children. The museum was designed by Kenzo Tange. Tange was mostly raised in Hiroshima but also lived in China for some time. His connection to Hiroshima was the reason why he felt he should design the museum. In the aftermath of the war there was a lack of financial resources and materials, so the design is actually fairly simple. It is considered to be “High Modern,” which is an international style that could be seen anywhere. It isn’t “good” it isn’t “bad,” it just sort of is. The building is concrete and is clean and stark without many human elements, but that isn’t the point.
The first part of the museum includes artifacts from school children. I felt that the museum was really tailored to children and seeing large groups of middle school students move through the exhibit felt a bit surreal. The kids in the displays were the same age as the kids walking through the museum. 140,000 were killed from the bombing, and of course many more died of complications later on. The experience of seeing the museum moved all of us and also brought up a lot of questions about history, propaganda, and the purpose of having such powerful weaponry.
After a somber morning, we made our way to the Hiroshima port and said sayonara to our bus driver. We gave him a U of U baseball cap and some Go Learn swag as a thank you and convinced him to take a group photo. It was a treat having him with us for most of a week!
We then made our way to the island of Miyajima. This island is inhabited by many deer. But they are the sort of deer that eat paper and don’t have any fears. Cute, but also sort of annoying! Our first stop was the Itsukushima Shrine. This is a Shinto shrine and is known for its “floating” torii gate. The shrine is very symmetrical and is in the familiar persimmon color. The current structure has actually been rebuilt many times because of damage and most recently because of a typhoon.
Back at our inn, we put on our yukatas, and after an incredible dinner of many small delights and some oysters, which Miyajima is also known for, we went out for an evening boat ride to see the floating torii gate lit up at night. The tide had come in, and we were even able to drive under the gate for a different perspective. It was the perfect way to end the evening.