6.15am with Mr Higham knocking on everyone’s door and to his surprise all students were up and about nearly ready for breakfast. Another full buffet breakfast started the morning of travel. This time it was by any ordinary train it was by Shinkansen (bullet train) with seat allocation to the city of world peace – Hiroshima.
We boarded the train at 8.00am sharp and were supposed to alight at 10.00am, as these trains are efficient. This was one of those rare moments when things don’t go as planned for Japanese Rail and we were held up for over an hour. Leaving the station there was a sense of chaos with late trains and missed departures.
We escaped the chaos and made our way to our hotel. We left our luggage and headed back to the shops of the Hiroshima Station. Here we enjoyed lunch in a self-serve bakery before heading on a street car to the A-Bomb dome, the Memorial Peace Park and the Museum.
Needless to say the A-Bomb dome was breath taking, yet a remnant of a miserable truth. The park was equally inspiring and knowing that President Barack Obama, accompanied by Shinzo Abe (Japan’s Prime Minister), recently had made a speech where we had just walked, added to the moment. When a world exists without nuclear weapons, Barrack’s earlier request in 2009, the park’s flame with be extinguished. The Peace Park is more than that with its acknowledgement of the deaths of enslaved Koreans and Chinese and the American POWs as well as the hundreds of thousands of Japanese. The sight of the statue dedicated to Sadoko Sasaki and 1000’s of paper cranes surrounding her was also cause for reflection as our students had read the book. Then walking through the museum dedicated to the memory of 8.15am August 6 1945 and what ensued was overwhelming, yet humbling. A veil of awe fell over our students and after visiting the Hall of Remembrance in the park dedicated to those who had died, we sensed our students had had enough.
We made our way to Hondori, Hiroshima’s shopping mall. We walked the length of the mall and boarded the street car for Hiroshima Station and made our way back to the hotel to check in. Here we met two of Clara’s relatives much to her embarrassment. Her relatives made a fuss of all of us as well as Clara. After checking in we set off for a favourite dish – Okonomiyaki. Nagaoka Sensei’s smile at being home in Hiroshima and eating her favourite food was priceless. After dinner we ventured to Karaoke, hiring two booths, and saw another side of many of our students. The boys provided the girls with some stiff competition. And while Nagaoka Sensei was in her element eating Okonomiyaki she can also hold a note! Staff Sensei was up for the challenge and included many of the students especially with her rendition of Sia’s Chandelier! All Mr Higham could say was “How good was that!” This was the perfect recipe for lifting our spirits after such an emotionally demanding day. We got back to the hotel to find Clara surrounded by more relatives. The mood of the students was up. We went to our rooms knowing that more is to come on this trip of a life time.
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