In the Spring of 1983 I received a full-paid scholarship to visit Japan that summer. This happened through my dad's company's corporate sponsorship of an exchange program called Youth For Understanding (YFU). I had never heard of them before (and I haven't heard much of them since). After I was chosen I spent a good month or so anxiously waiting to find out where exactly I was going to be sent. When I finally found out that I had been placed in a small town called "Kuchiwa" in Hiroshima, it didn't exactly make me *less* anxious. I was a little bit afraid that people would treat me badly because of the bomb and lingering anti-American feelings. Remember, this was just at the time of the worst "Japan-Bashing" that was happening in Washington. If you have never seen pictures of Congressmen taking sledge hammers to a Japanese-built car, you should google it. It's not a pretty sight.
As a tourist I was taken to The Hiroshima Peace Park pretty early on in my stay. There is a large Museum documenting the history and showing artifacts from the day. Have you ever heard of the granite wall with a shadow of a man permanently imbedded into it? It's on display in Hiroshima. Behind the Musuem building is an arch I learned was called a cenotaph: I didn't know what that word was when my host-brother showed it to me in the dictionary, but I won't test your knowledge here: it's a gravestone for bodies that are not necessarily buried there. Because so many people were instantly obliterated by the bomb, this is all that remains to remind us of them. Located somewhat behind this stone object and its eternal flame is the A-Bomb Dome. It had been an industrial hall of some sort during the war and because it was the epicenter of the blast, it somehow managed to survive the actual explosion. It's an impressive and sobering sight. (You can just see it at the bottom of the photo above, across the street from the baseball stadium.)