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Student looking at an exhibit in the Hiroshima Peace Park Museum

Hiroshima Peace Park Museum #JUSFC

June 22, 2018

During our trip to Japan, there were a lot of captivating and interesting moments that I experienced, but one of the most memorable had to be when I went to the Hiroshima Peace Park Museum. This had been the first museum our group had visited and I was curious about how Japan might interpret the bombing of Hiroshima and if it would be relatively similar to the setup of American museums.

Students looking at an exhibit in the Hiroshima Peace Park Museum

Towards the beginning of the museum, it was pretty much what I had assumed it would be like. Moving throughout the museum was like a timeline, where the front of the museum listed facts predating the bombing, such as the construction of the bomb and where it would be dropped. The middle of the museum continued with some background information on Hiroshima with all of this leading to the event of the actual bombing. I thought it would end with the information of the aftermath and the effects it had on the people, but the museum surprised me with a showcasing of artifacts that survived the bombing. These artifacts were the most impactful part of the museum since they were all remnants of what people owned, wore, or used at the time of the bombing, and it brought a more human aspect to the Hiroshima bombing.

Most of my experiences with the atomic bombing before the museum had been in a classroom setting out of a textbook, explained quickly and then abandoned to make way for the next historical event we had to learn about. Seeing the bloody, torn clothing people had worn at the time as well as the stories behind them had saddened me, but it also made me think and reflect about the atomic bombing, and what it could lead to in the present, or the future. For the person whose watch stopped at exactly 9:15, they had no future, and no way to change the present, but we still do, and we need to take advantage of the opportunities that the people who died never had.

Students having a discussion in a classroom

Once everyone in the group had gathered together back outside the museum, we had a discussion to share what we saw and our thoughts on it. I really enjoyed hearing the group’s reflection on the museum to get some different insight from my own and to catch some things I had overlooked in the museum. Our time outside the museum was one of the earliest group reflections we had and I think it is really interesting to compare our thoughts as a group from the beginning of the trip to our thoughts at the end of the trip. Although numerous people in our group suggested we need nuclear weapons for our own safety, the events during the trip slowly changed our thoughts and widened our perspectives to allow us to believe that there is a way for us to live without nuclear weapons and that we should work towards a world that has no chance of repeating the atrocity that happened in Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

It was most surprising to see my own thoughts change to see the possibility of a world without nuclear weapons, as I believed it was a futile effort before, but with some new experiences and education in nuclear weapons, I think the United States as a whole could open its eyes to this perspective with time and education.

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