In the summer of 2008 I had the opportunity to visit the country of Japan. I was invited by the People to People Student Ambassador Programs to travel and received a primary access to the major metropolitan districts as well as the rural towns across Nippon. Without a doubt, this was out of the ordinary, compared to the heavy populated Los Angeles County, with its distant commutes, gas-guzzlers, and fast pace lifestyle where vegetation does not coincided in a concrete jungle.
The abundance of my itinerary included sightseeing and experiencing the daily customs like the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, the Gifu Prefecture and Hiroshima that demonstrate their vitality and advanced caliber. These dignified destinations include landmarks like Mount Fuji, The Golden Pavilion, Meiji Jingu, the Nijo Castle, the Himeji Castle and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum; where its magnificence was abounding to the point where reality seemed a dream. As I was confronted by the Japanese inhabitants it was impossible to walk by without saying konichiwa (meaning hello). This experience conveyed the importance of environmental beauty, to take pride in the outside vegetation.
The food was exquisite, the scenery picturesque, but that there was one particular day in which emotions were dominant and strength was displayed. On May 10th, in the year of 1945, the Target Committee at Los Alamos recommended the Japanese cities of Kyoto, Hiroshima and Yokohama to be possible targets of the atomic bombing. Eventually history would follow as the United States of America would be the first nation to display and use atomic bombs for defense. Fast forward to August 6, 2008, standing in front of the Genbaku Dome, an astounding structure though marred, it is still standing.
The dome displayed the degree of cruelty a powerful country once demonstrated. I also stood in front of the Children’s Peace Monument which took a great toll in which I acknowledged my blessings as a child. At the age of eight I was carefree unable to distinguish the importance of war, and I could only imagine what the Japanese girls and boys who were impacted, were feeling as their skin was burning, their lungs unable to inhale the precious anatomy of oxygen.
The opportunity to be there on the actual Memorial Day was impacting and awkward, nonetheless I, an American and they Japanese are able to unite and have peace with one another. This opportunity reinforced the difference of cultures but also the importance to unite together as inhabitants of the earth.
Considering that Japan is a relatively small country compared to the United States transportation is minimal and so many cars can fit, therefore walking and bicycling as a commodity was an interesting experience far different from the dependence of an automobile. My trip to Japan opened my horizons, to noticing a greater world outside of the United States. I also understood the importance of success and the benefits that are attached to understanding.
I can safely say that Japan is a country full of tradition and valor, which is displayed through historical establishments like the Fukuyama Castle and Miyajima known as the island of the gods. But out of all these images the most impressing scene is inside the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and displayed in a glass case is a marred and rusty tricycle along with a Japanese child’s helmet. This visage motivates me to understand the difference of cultures. It is a reminder that two nation should not resort to in a time of conflict.
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