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06 May 2010 @ 06:13 pm
I don't know what to think about this  
So yesterday, softlykarou y and I went into Hiroshima for the Flower Festival. She wandered off at one point, and I'm sitting in the Peace Park waiting for her when an old man comes up to me and says hello and asks me how I am. I say fine, ask him how he is, and he laughs and says he doesn't speak English well. So I switch to Japanese and ask him how he is.

We chat a bit, he asks where I live and where I'm from, and when I say America he gets down on the ground, picks up a stick, and draws a small circle.

"Genbaku Doumu," he says (Atomic Bomb Dome).

Now at this point, I'm preparing for the worst, especially when he draws an even bigger circle for the blast radius. Then he draws the streetcar line, and asks me if I know what the area north of that used to be. I admit that I do not, and he says it was a military area.

He then tells me that he was a 10-year-old in the military (a conscript, I assume) at the time that the bomb dropped.

Oh fuck, I think. Not really sure what to say, I nod and get ready to get chewed out, but then he says that everywhere Hiroshima is called the Peace City, with the Peace Park, Peace Memorial, etc., but back then it was a military city. He says that when the Americans came and bombed Japan, they brought minshu shugi (民主主義, something like "democratic principles") with them. And then he bowed and thanked me.

I was a bit stunned, and I muttered some of the standard Japanese responses to compliments (i.e., denying them), while he told me that the bombing was very sad, and many people died, but because of it, now Japan is peaceful and democratic. He bowed again and thanked me, wished me good day, and walked away.

I got his name (Takau Tarou) and Googled it, but nothing showed up. Maybe if I knew the kanji...but then again, maybe not. I was going to see if there was some sort of database on hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors), but then I remembered that they've had problems with discrimination against them in Japan, so there's probably no public record kept. Well...maybe I'll run into him again at the remembrance ceremony on the 6th.
 
 
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: None
 
 
 
Nancynotthecheat on May 6th, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
That is an amazing way for a survivor to process and think about the bombings.
Khandri, the Newtype Wannabe: PR - Adam - Searching My Soulkhandreia on May 6th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
It truly is remarkable how personal experiences can shape one's perspective on a major event, how sometimes some good can come out of something so devastating and tragic. I think you stumbled onto something very interesting here.
deathfromafardeathfromafar on May 7th, 2010 01:19 pm (UTC)
I think the man in my icon would be overjoyed to have heard this.