Prior to embarking on this trip I had no prior experience with Japanese culture. Well, it’s true that a few years ago I had visited a local Japanese restaurant, whose chicken fried rice was exquisite might I add, but aside from that I had never truly immersed myself within any culture other than that of the United States. Fortunately, however, the Global Connections 2015 trip afforded me the opportunity of a lifetime; for two weeks I would be traveling across Japan on a journey to observe the many ways Japanese culture memorializes peace.
It has been a week since we landed in Japan. I still cannot believe how much we have experienced together and how much more we are going to explore. Our today’s itinerary is quite intense. Starting the day with a cup of iced coffee (Of course having some troubles reading the menu and ordering the drink), we are going to another museum, Yasukuni shrine, a famous omelette rice restaurant and finally a temple (also looks like a research facility to me).
The proliferation of feeling life through art and experience
Pain changes people. I am a witness and my life is my testimony. I have lost three people who were very close to me over the past year and I have been trying to find a means to keep going. I looked forward to this trip for guidance and potential spiritual enlightenment. Our 1st day in Japan, we went to a shrine; there we saw large statues of foxes and big orange gates. The foxes sat before every gate like guard dogs welcoming in every visitor who dared to pass them. I asked our tour guide what it all meant and he kindly told me that the foxes where the messengers and the gates orange color was to ward off bad spirits and the shape is supposed to symbolize the door to heaven. I stared at the gates in the heavy rain and thought. Heavy rain wash away my sins and pain and let me run through these gates to find some type of heaven in this world.
I never knew Taeko Miyoshi. Before today I was unaware of this woman’s existence. Even though we are a part of different generations and reside on completely opposite sides of the globe, we share an important similarity. The year I was born in a small town in Alabama, Taeko was relaying her memories of the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima. While I took in the world with new eyes, Taeko remembered the last time she saw her mother, an image characterized by her waving a feeble goodbye to young Taeko with a blood-ridden hand. This reflection on a memoir only serves as one example of the thoughts that have been racing through my head on this trip thus far, especially regarding today’s events.
Victory at any cost. This phrase seemingly encapsulated the strategy and mindset used by the U.S. at the time of the atomic bomb drop on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. In the American school system, we learned that the U.S. dropped two devastating bombs on Japan in order to end the war as quickly as possible, thus preventing more killings and saving lives on both sides. However, the costs of this victory that ended WWII were staggering: 140,000 dead in Hiroshima and 70,000 dead in Nagasaki.
This is it. This is our first, full day in Japan. We started it off by eating breakfast together at the hotel. The buffet-style breakfast featured mostly Japanese food with some American breakfast food, like cereal. I had miso soup, rice with cucumber slices, two pieces of tamago (a sweetened egg omelet) and cold oolong tea. Though it did not keep me filled for long, it was tasty and healthy. We then headed out to meet our guide, Mr. Aki, at the Kansai train station. He was fatherly and personable and I soon found myself enjoying his presence in our group. After taking the train to Osaka, we walked through a park to reach the International Peace museum. Continue reading Olivia Lowery Reflection