Saturday, August 06, 2005

Nightime ceremony for the A-bomb victims

At dinner, we watched TV and saw that there was a huge orchestra concert at the Peace Park, and saw tons of people. We decided to wait a little rather than brave the crowds again. Aunty was finally willing to pose for a picture.
Kazuhiro and I caught the bus and we went back to the Peace Park. Then we went to float lanterns for the dead down the river. Huge crowd of people, but a bit more relaxed than in the morning. A-bomb dome bathed in a ghostly white light. I bought a lantern and wrote messages of peace on it. I floated my lantern at the rivers edge. All the lanterns representing the souls of the victims – a beautiful but bittersweet sight as the lanterns flowed upriver (high tide, so river went up)
On the banks of the river, musicians were performing for peace. One jazz pianist came and performed an agitated version of “My favorite things.” He then played a peaceful and beautiful rendition of “When you wish upon a star.” Again, note the preponderance of Western music. I did see groups of foreigners talking to Japanese youth. We do need more times like this to build grass-roots international exchanges.

I would like to see Hawaii do a similar peace festival. Think about it, we see general public demonstrations like parades with military equipment. But no peace demonstrations sponsored by the government. I would like to see a ceremony for A-bomb victims, with a booth on the side explaining Japan’s war of aggression against Asia, details of why the U.S. government decided to drop the bomb (many generals and advisors against doing so) and the legacy of the bomb. Keep anti-American sentiment to a minimum, and focus on the need for peace – that war is only truly a last resort. Have songs by artists to reinforce the message on the need for peaceful solutions to problems.

Later that night, I took Kazuhiro to the Shack to experience an American-style bar and grill, and to play darts. Along the way, I bumped into John, a retired Marine who I met ten years ago. He shuttles between Hiroshima and Honolulu. We agreed to meet on Monday.And of course, like almost all Japanese, the waitress at the Shack remembered me from last time. Aren`t the people here just memory machines? Or are nikkei so rare over here? Kazuhiro's hands trembled when he took this picture, so I used the computer to sharpen the photo. What a shame since the waitress was quite cute and friendly...

I was shocked as how so many westerners, especially women, were lighting up their cigarettes while they drank. Makes you wonder if all that anti-tobacco education just cannot defeat the glamorous portrayals of cigarettes in the movies. I also realized that people in the West do suffer from an obesity problem – saw so many young western women (including Asian Americans) with protruding guts in this bar. I guess I have been in Japan too long and used to seeing petite people. Middle-aged women, I understand, as gaining weight is part of growing older. But young western women of all races in their twenties being bigger than most Japanese young men? Mission control, we have a problem...

My darts aim has just deteriorated! Anyway, here`s Kazuhiro with a Budweiser:

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