Just a few minutes away, in the northern part of Nagasaki you can find the area of Urakami. At the end of World War II this area became the ground zero of one of the atomic bombs that exploded in Japan.
I decided to include it in my travel and to once more go through with the ordeal of visiting an Atomic bombing museum.
Arriving at Urakami station I walked in a straight street towards the museum.
Much like the Hiroshima atomic bombing museum this one tells a gruesome and devastating story. I think both of them make an really good point of raising awareness towards the use of these types of weapons. They tell the story of those who died directly from the explosion, those who died from the heat, those who died from the smoke, those that died over the years due to radiation poisoning, babies who were born with deformities that either died or lived and the ones that lived with this terrible day on their memory. It’s a gruesome tale that I recommend for education.
Leaving the museum, I visited the memorial area, the hypocenter park.
The first statue you see is a statue by Naoki Tominaga made in 1997 on the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing. In the author’s words, this statue serves as a reminder of the caring help other nations, represented as the mother, provided Japan, represented as the baby, after the terrible event.
Next to it, encapsulated in a valley that helped contain the explosion, lies the hypocenter of the explosion of “fat man”, an atomic bomb even more powerful than the one that fell in Hiroshima.
The black memorial monolith was erected in 1968, standing by the remains of the old Urakami Cathedral.
Further ahead you can find the peace park.
In 1969 using donations from all over the country the “Fountain of Peace” was built. Built, not only but also, in honour of those who died crying for water after the explosion.
Behind the fountain, in a straight line at the center of a wide and flat area, you cannot miss the peace statue. A gigantic man sits with one leg crossed pointing with both his arms.
Next to it, a sign states:
This statue was erected by the citizens of Nagasaki in August 1955 on the 10th anniversary of the devastation of this city by the atomic bomb. Thanks to contributions from Japan and abroad, the ten meter bronze statue, which was designed by Seibo Kitamura, was dedicated as an appeal for lasting world peace and as a prayer that such a tragedy would never be repeated.
The elevated right hand points to the threat of nuclear weapons, while the outstretched left hand symbolises tranquillity and world peace. Devine omnipotence and love are embodied in the sturdy physique and gentle countenance of the statue and a prayer for the repose of the souls of all war victims is expressed in the closed eyes. Furthermore, the folded right leg symbolises quiet meditation, while the left leg is poised for action in assisting humanityNagasaki city
Nagasaki was and still is a city with a large number of Christians. Before the war, the city already had a history of suffering due to the persecutions it’s people suffered.
The old Urakami cathedral was built during the Meiji government, at a time when people stoped being persecuted. Completed in 1925 this cathedral was said to be the largest in the Orient.
“It stood as a witness to the faith and sufferings of the returned exiles”States an informative brochure I brought from the church
In 1945 it was completely destroyed by the atomic bomb. The current cathedral stands since 1959 when it was built again by the local congregation. A couple of stone statues still remain in front of the church.
At the end of the day, I walk slowly through the streets, taking in everything I had learnt and felt during the day.
To get to Urakami, you can take the local Tram No.3 for Akasako from Nagasaki station, the trip will take 15 minutes and cost almost 2 dollars.
It’s fairly easy to visit and completely recommended if you’re staying even for just one day in Nagasaki. You can visit in a morning in an average pace.
The museum is open from 8:30 to 5:30 and entrance is free and I really recommend visiting.
From there, a casual walk around the area makes for the rest of the time.
When I visited the Cathedral I did enter but remained at the door so not to be disrespectful of the mass happening.
What would I do differently
Besides the terrible pictures I took, I feel that I experienced this whole area in a very different way than I did in Hiroshima. While I wrote, I realised that coming here on my own, gave a more introspective feeling of the moment and I was able to take things at my own pace in much more clear way. I definitely recommend you visit alone
At the peace park, I sat down in a bench near the large statue for some 10 to 15 minutes to take in the moment, and at some point an old lady sat down beside me. I wondered how it must feel for her to be there. Did she loose someone? Family, friends?
As for the church I wish I had spent more time there. At that time I felt a little awkward for being there, but now, I wish I had walked around more.
There will be a post about Kumamoto castle, the most awesome castle I ever saw in my life!
I am sorry for not writing last week but I was too tired with work and the house. I spent 2 Saturdays and 2 Sundays scrubbing the tile floor of the house to remove black stains from years of lack of care. No rest for the wicked.
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed and I hope you are all well.