Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nagasaki's War Museum WILL make you cry

After an extremely quiet stint in the library and a sneaky IPM (in-port-manning) switch with Birthday-boy Paul, Eric and I hopped off the ship in Nagasaki.

First stop in this surprisingly leafy, quaint town –nothing like the neon, high-rise, tons-of-electricity-cable cities we’ve been flung into recently- was a walk up this hill,
sampling rich sponge/cheese cake on the way, to Glover Park. I love these HUGE Koi Carp outside one of the many Dockhouses in the park, 20-pounders easily.

This settlement on the hill of Minami-Yamate began in 1863, when Thomas Blake Glover travelled over from Scotland to live there. Other residents of note include William Alt (whose old oven Eric is simulating a good fry-up on)
and Frederick Ringer. There is also a statue of Puccini, whose opera Madame Butterfly is said to be set in one of the mansions in Nagasaki. Eric’s impression is not as good as my recreation of the peace statue later on (forgive us!) but he scrubs up okay I guess…

There was a wedding going on outside one of the colonial, Victorian-England style houses, and guess what? A Japanese Bagpipe player! Yeah! Don’t see those every day…
Also, check out the Geisha ladies

On to other things, and we got two different trams (which were pretty old, see?)
to the Peace Park. There are various statues here, this one being the largest and most impressive. Check out the statue copying the chick in the foreground. Others are donated from other countries as a gesture of hope for a peaceful future, and holding babies aloft seemed to be a recurring theme.

Next was the Atomic Bomb Museum, a very sobering place. At 11.02am on August 11th 1945, UK and America after various meetings and planning, dropped the 2nd atomic bomb in Nagasaki, the secondary spot, the first choice being deemed impossible due to lack of vision/cloud cover. Oh how I wish those clouds had never parted.
I felt ashamed to be British walking around the exhibits, learning about the impact of the flash itself, the 73,000 lives lost and 74,000 more injured, scarred, blinded etc. The results were fatal as far as 3km from where the bomb landed. They used plutonium, which scorched buildings and people alive.

I cried when we reached the testimonies of children who’d seen their parents die, and in one case only a few years later, seen the spot where they died bulldozed and schools erected there. The girl said she used to put a stick to the charcoal in the playground and thought she could see her mother’s face there.

We bumped into Alex, the male ballroom dancer onboard, and as he’d also been to the museum, we went for lunch together after a taxi back to the port area. Alex speaks pretty passable Japanese (what can’t he do?!) so we were pretty adventurous in our choices, and my glutenous but juicy noodles, seafood and veggies were great. The convenience food of choice in Nagasaki is a white rolled-over dough containing pork ribs, squishy and boneless with sticky sauce, and the “roll” itself is of marshmallow consistency. Acquired taste, then! What I didn't try was this burger, although now I wish I had,
I mean, "the taste of volumeful" (typo, what, 25? Maybe I should stop taking the mick, I mean, I couldn't do any better in Japanese.....)

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