"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." - Pablo Picasso


Japan trip
Day 11 - 16th June - Peace Memorial Museum, Peace Memorial Hall; Hiroshima
(Part 3)

Japan already has so many public holidays, yet many places still take and end-of-year break.

"Burned out letters. The heat rays burned out the black letters, which absorbed more heat"

Shadow of a handle on a gas tank

A woman with burns

Black nail. Unfortunately he was dangling his arm outside the window so 2 fingers grew black, deformed nails (presumably not for the rest of his life).

Deformed fingernail. Since the bomb, his fingernail has grown abnormally.

Imprinted kimono pattern

A schoolgirl with burns

And then I found that this was the first museum I'd been to which asked you to touch original historical artefacts:

"Roof tiles - Feel free to touch these items". Maybe they have too many tiles.
Another sign read "they are safe".

I was reminded of my friend, who said her friend did not want to visit Hiroshima - 60 years after the bomb - because she was afraid of radiation. Say it with me now: "... women"

Some of the survivors have body pains - shards of glass were blown into them by the bomb.

There was double damage because first there was the blast of the bomb, and then a reverse blast, because of lower pressure after the initial blast.

Fused lump of small glass bottles: "The bottles were fused into a lump by the fire. When he saw it, Minoru mumbled, 'Must have been really hot'"

There was also an abalone shaped bowl with adhered dirt.

I took this plaque (sans artifact) because the story was really sad:

"Masataro Okahara (then 49) was exposed to the A-bomb in his office... One week after the bombing, [his wife] dug into the ruins of Masataro's workplace where his desk had been and found bones in the position of a person sitting in a chair. The lunch boxes and pipe lay at the end of the outstretched right arm. Stunned by this confirmation of her husband's death, Tsuneyo sank to the ground."

You think this sort of thing only happens in fiction.

Measuring radiation:
"This equipment is carefully designed to keep radiation from leaking out of the case. It is perfectly safe."

We all know about α, β and γ rays, and their penetrative power, but this was the first time I saw information on neutron rays - they are more penetrative than γ rays, and can pierce thick steel.

After one week, the radiation level was 1/1,000,000 of the original and "Today, residual radiation from the Hiroshima A-bomb has no effect on human bodies"


Small folded paper cranes (more on this in a later post). Funny, I'd have thought smaller cranes are harder to fold. People are weird.

More paper cranes

There were some paintings and drawings by Atomic bomb survivors and witnesses. They were drawn up to 57 years after the event, which sounded a note of caution, despite the gushing:

Slicing vegetables and applying them to wounds.

Another sad story:

""I went with my uncle to the charred rubble of his house, where my aunt had been. Near the back door, we halted. 'Ah! Ahh...' We couldn't speak. There before our eyes were the skeletal remains of my aunt, still standing. With large teardrops flowing down his cheeks, my uncle said, 'Oh, how hot you must have been! I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.' My uncle gently tried to clasp her skull with both hands, but it suddenly fell apart into pieces on the ground'"

This sounds dodgy, for skeletons cannot stand (there's a reason why those you see have hidden supports).

Peace Park

A-bomb Dome

Guestbook: "No War, Yes War, No War, Inhuman". Wth.


Translation: "Seeing what happened to Hiroshima after the atomic nucleus exploded, I really feel very heavy-hearted. Yet, when you think of how despicable China Japan was, shouldn't the Japanese engage in some self-reflection?"
(No, I didn't translate wrongly. 原子核 = Atomic Nucleus. 原子弹 = Atomic Bomb)

I found it amusing that this message was left in a mixture of Traditional and Simplified Chinese (helpfully ended off with "Chinese" - maybe the guy was afraid they'd try to read it as Kanji?) It's not like they'll be able to read it easily.

I found it even more amusing that the person almost wrote about how despicable China was - it must be a Freudian slip (maybe he was thinking of the Great Leap Forward)

Considering that the museum talked about what Japan did and explicitly said that Japan had to reflect upon its past, I was saddened (though not entirely surprised) by Chinese. As someone said:

"everything is over...
everything is history

my tour guide [told] me she hates to bring chinese tourists the most
they keep reiterating what happen in wwII
and just refuse to move on

remember, if anyone ask if u r chinese in Japan, Say NO
say u're Singaporean"

"The human race is fundamentally fucked up. This is a great museum. Thank you."

There was a gallery featuring celebrities who'd visited the museum before:

"Having experienced the fearful accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the people of Ukraine understand Hiroshima's experience better than anyone else." (presumably he didn't run this through with anyone from Nagasaki)
Yushchenko - who wrote everything in Japanese (!)

"It is also the greatest warning about the danger of the horrible use of nuclear bomb. We pray it will never happen again."
Shimon Peres. Notice how it doesn't say "we should get rid of nuclear weapons", hurr hurr.

The "President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay" signed the guestbook in 1989. Yes, that is actually the official name of the country: República Oriental del Uruguay! (it's east of the Uruguay river)

"Now is the time for an effort like never before to achieve peace" - Well, look how that turned out 11 years later.
FW de Klerk, 1997

Pengiran Yusof (Former PM of Brunei - and an Atomic bomb survivor; he was studying in Hiroshima university)

"Never again Oswiencim (Auschwits), Never again Hiroshima!"
Director of the Auschwitz museum. This was when Poland was still Communist, which is why he didn't write: "Never again Gulag Archipelago! Never again Holodomor!"
In any case, we can add to the chorus of cries: "Never again Cambodia! Never again Bosnia! Never again Rwanda! Never again Darfur! Never again North Korea! Never again Never Agains!"

Another sad story: passing water from mouth to mouth

Badge given to people engaged in the Manhattan Project

There was mention of 2 honorary citizens of the city: Floyd Schmae and Mary McMillan. Interestingly, the former was a stretcher-bearer during World War I because he was a conscientious objector.

Cenotaph for the A-bombs victims

The tomb contains the victim register


Next was the National Peace Memorial Hall.

Less a museum than a memorial and documentation centre. One lesson of history: no more "incidents"

Bizarrely, they called the victims' deaths a "sacred sacrifice". Maybe that means they died with honour.

The museum said that "at one point in the 20th century, Japan walked the path of war" and acknowledged "the many lives sacrificed to mistaken national policy".

High tech archive: you place a book on the sensor and it will display related information

The monument outside depicts "8:15", the time the bomb was dropped and around it are artefacts. Presumably no one steals them.

After going down a winding path, I found myself in a mystical hall:

Water Hall, Remembrance

After the bomb

Victims pleading for water

[Addendum: "the first 3 bubbles refer to the same thing - water, in kanji, hiragana and katakana respectively"]

"Besides this notebook, we would like to accept your comments by letters and facsimile. There are no restrictions regarding format. Please send us your comments."
I was tempted to send in an interpretive dance video.
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