Nagasaki reflections

Last week Danny and I caught a train down from Fukuoka to Nagasaki to view some of the historical sites there. Coming into it I knew it would be a moving experience... I had read before about the horrors that had been dropped on the city by means of an atomic bomb in World War II. [>Link to history wiki page here<]. I have been sitting on this blog post because no matter how I arrange them my words here seem to fall clumsily and speak all at once too casually and too obtusely of what happened there. The loss of 75,000 lives so...needlessly.

And the world is still at war. 


Even knowing this ahead of time I wasn't really prepared for the intensity of not just my emotions, but Nagasaki as an emotive landscape on the whole. There is something weird about passing through this kind of space as a tourist. I know that it is important for so many reasons that we do remember and revisit what happened there, but walking through it feels like you are a spectator to some of the most evil parts of 'mans inhumanity to man'. How did they move forward? How do the leaders who make the awful decisions of war ever balance the books on their decision-making and not come up empty and hollow?

What really astounded me in Nagasaki was the message of peace. It is not quiet or angry, it isn't static - it pours over you like cold water and wakes you up to the realities of war and warfare.

Alongside the testimony, records and reflections there is a beautiful collection of artworks both indoors and out that reflect; grieve; uplift and celebrate. Spaces that envelope you in acute moments of kinship with those who have lived through it and shared their stories in the space. People who had to live with the loss and the pain, wounds, illness and stigma. The Nagasaki bombing and the testimony of what happened there repeats and repeats the message of peace and the importance of the campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

A work gifted by New Zealand cities to the peace garden sculpture collection.

A work gifted by New Zealand cities to the peace garden sculpture collection.

It is also important here I think for me to also talk about the other Nagasaki; the contexts of its existence as more than just a place that was bombed. The city itself is beautiful; giant urban streets and every now and then a gap between buildings that create little windows through to the hills and blended urban landscapes. It is everything I love about Japan; the polite kindness, the noise, the grit and the efficiency (and the occasional cat!).

It is like any place that people call home.

Thats the other thing; so many places could have been or may become Nagasaki if we aren't careful. It is terrifying, but we are all complicit and accountable. We can't forget that.

I was really moved by the Nagasaki Peace Declaration by their Mayor given on 9th August 2016, and I feel like that is a fitting way to end this post, you can check it out here: Nagasaki Peace Declaration

May peace prevail on Earth.

- MB



Mary-Beth Acres