Comment: Sensitivity of soles

by Keisuke Yoshihara, Executive Director of the Hiroshima Peace Media Center

I walk through the Peace Memorial Park almost every morning on the way to work. Although it’s still hot, the leaves of the trees in the park have slowly begun to turn yellow.

“I’ve long considered Peace Memorial Park to be just, a park. But once I discovered present-day Peace Park was a residential area prior to the bombing, the thought that the ground I now casually strolled was once ‘home’ to many, changed the sensation I felt through the soles of my feet,” said a female writer in a Kansai area newspaper.

She is one of nine young writers from nine different Japanese newspaper companies who traveled to Hiroshima this past July for the 11-day “Hiroshima Course.” During the course, these young writers listened to lectures, interviewed both A-bomb survivors and family members of A-bomb victims, and wrote articles about what they learned. She shared the sentiment near the end of the seminar. Hiroshima Course was first held in fiscal year 2002, and this year’s seminar was its 18th offering.

The Chugoku Shimbun asked each of these young writers to send the articles they wrote once they had returned to their hometowns. Interestingly, they had written many articles about the Peace Memorial Museum’s exhibits, which reopened in April after a period of renovation. Many of them also wrote about the on-going excavation of the former Nakajima district located to the north of the museum building.

In the first installment of this series of articles, a male writer from the Kanto area highlighted the fact that about 4,400 people were living in the former Nakajima district before the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. He wrote about the excavation work in the following way: “Now that there are fewer and fewer people who know the things that occurred in the past, we have to preserve the A-bombed remnants of the Nakajima district as a tangible evidence and pass them down to future generations.”

Another male writer from the Tokai area explained the reason behind the excavation of the Nakajima district in the following way: “In response to misunderstandings in which it was thought that the atomic bomb was dropped on a park, the citizens of Hiroshima would like to clarify the sad fact that the atomic bomb was dropped on a residential area, where the lives of thousands of people were blown away by the atomic bomb.”

Indeed, Peace Memorial Park was constructed on burnt ruins after laying a large amount of soil on the ground raised its level a bit. This is why A-bombed remnants still exist in the park. The City of Hiroshima is planning to display these A-bombed remnants to the public in fiscal year 2020, in part, to mark the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing. The lives of the people who lived in the area prior to the atomic bombing are buried at a depth of about 60 to 90 centimeters. It is hoped that the sight of the displayed remnants may sharpen the sensitivity of the soles of all those who walk through the Peace Park.

(Originally published on October 3, 2019)