‘Ahh. This will be nice,’ my mind whispered to itself. I settled into my seat and the long, twelve hour plane ride ahead of me. “Ugh.” I stared down at my hideously large walking boot. “What?” Victor’s eyes ran rapidly between mine and my boot. I gestured sarcastically toward the repulsive object, kicking my foot out in front of me. He sighed. “It’s not that bad.” I stared at him like he belonged in the zoo. “Really? ‘It’s not that bad?’ Really?” I accused.
“Konichiwa!” Our tour guide welcomed us in Osaka. “Wow! This place is amazing!” Looking around, I could tell this was going to be the experience of a lifetime, literally. The walk to the bus was short and quick; thank GOD. We loaded our luggage and were on our way. I stared out the window as Chieko, our guide, introduced herself, the city, and this beautiful country. I couldn’t help but let my mind wander as we passed factories, homes, and a gorgeous ocean. What was in store for me here? What was I going to find? I looked at Victor. He smiled back at me.
That evening was quite different, I suppose is the correct word. Our ‘big adventure’ was the corner store next to our hotel. Ah, I laugh at that. The boys ran, well scurried, around the store like mice grabbing everything in sight. It was amusing! We began to discover what the city had to offer.
The next morning, after breakfast, we took the subway to the Shin-Osaka Station to take the Bullet Train to Hiroshima. Honestly, if I hadn’t been told that’s what we were riding, I probably wouldn’t have known. You didn’t feel the speed; never saw it either.
After two hours, we finally reached Hiroshima. It was beautiful, which wasn’t too shocking. Chieko said we were had 40 minutes to spend at the Hiroshima Peace Museum. By the time we got there it was already 11 o’clock.
I was amazed by the impact the building alone had me. Standing there, knowing even just a sliver of what happened that fateful day, my heart ached. We walked inside and somehow the pain seemed to grow, almost intensify as I looked at the exhibits. The replica of Hiroshima Dome ripped my heart to shreds. From every angle something stabbed at my heart. How could one nation be so cruel to another? At many of the exhibits I just bowed my head, fighting tears.
When we left the museum it was time for a guided tour and history lesson of the city. Again, we had another amazing tour guide. She was really sweet, patient, and we knew she knew what she was talking about. She walked us around Hiroshima, starting at the museum, describing the bombing. With every word my heart sank.
It was beautiful outside, hot as it were, it was still beautiful, and the vivid green plants and trees shimmered and shined in the sunlight. Our guide talked to us about the flame the burned just beside the museum’s exit. She explained that it represented hope in their hands; it was an eternal flame. That made me smile.
We reached the children’s memorial shown with paper cranes for one specific child. Thousands of paper cranes from people all over the world were in containers around the statue. I could feel the tears in my eyes as I turned to face the water. I had never seen anything like it and probably wouldn’t ever again.
Finally we reached the dome. I couldn’t look. I couldn’t listen. My heart tugged. This was the last remaining building from the bombing. I shook my head a few times to clear it. ‘Why? Why did it happen this way?’ I kept questioning something I could never change.
We walked a little longer all over the city and finally made it back to the museum. “Arigotou!” It sounded like a choir finishing a performance. We bowed to, tipped, and thanked our lovely tour guide and then headed off to the bus. It was lunch time.
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