My profound Horishima Peace Park experience

Making War Unthinkable (c) 2013 Anita Morris

Making War Unthinkable (c) 2013 Anita Morris

On August 6, and August 9, 1945, one atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and another on Nagasaki. The cenotaph for A bomb victims in the Hiroshima Peace Park lists 221,893 as of 2001. I am uncertain what criteria the names need to meet other than they are not all Japanese.

I’ve been to Japan twice. The first time I visited Hiroshima and the Hiroshima Peace Park. Two things have stayed with me, the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound holds the unclaimed ashes of Atomic Bomb victims. Occasionally there is a DNA match and a family member goes home.

I’d spent my teenage years writing, mostly creative work but also some poetry. My first creative response the same day as visiting the park was a poem.

Remember Hiroshima

Remember Hiroshima
A city destroyed
Fires burn in conflagration
For three days
Remember Hiroshima
A child leaves their trapped mother and grandmother
For the survival of a younger sister
Remember Hiroshima
Corpses piled in the street
Floating in the river
Personal objects the only remains of loved ones
Thousands of unidentified bodies
Identified bodies burned from the blast
Remember Hiroshima
Sadako was two
A decade later she was deceased
From cancer due to the bomb
Her thousand paper cranes were her hope
Remember Hiroshima
To this day many die from radiation sickness
Remember Hiroshima
Pray for peace

The other vivid memory from the day at the Peace Park was of a circular room in Hiroshima Peace Museum. In the room was a montage of photographs showing the devastation as if at ground zero. One of the few things standing was an Otori gate in the distance.

December last year was ten years since I had been to the Hiroshima Peace Park. I didn’t set out to make art about it, it was drawn out of my subconscious. The piece is called “Making War Unthinkable” and has the Otori gate as the central motif. The flowers are poppies for remembrance, not cherry blossom. To Westerns cherry blossoms mean japan, but to the Japanese they are a symbol of the transience of all things, not what I wanted to say.


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