People often describe the view from Miyajima Island as one of the most beautiful in Japan. A softly curved Torii, a scarlet figure similar to the symbol pi, rises out of the water. Its calm background: layered mountains and the ferryboats that cross from Hiroshima.
A friend once invited me to write about a place I loved and how it inspired me, while this week’s #FriFotos chose “monuments” as its theme. Both invitations made me think of the same spot. This quiet corner of the world, the waterfront on Miyajima Island.
It’s tranquil now, with its rows of stony lanterns and gently lapping shore, but in 1945 it witnessed one of the worst events in history. The Enola Gay baptised the world into a new level of fear and horror when it dropped the world’s first atomic bomb, killing 80,000 in a single day and thousands more through injury and disease.
This horror became synonymous with the word Hiroshima itself.
How could such an act become inspiring?
Today’s Hiroshima reveals a clean city with efficient trams, schoolchildren in uniform, shopkeepers, parks and all the trappings of a healthy, happy place.
Today’s Hiroshima shows the power of healing.
The Peace Memorial Park uses monuments, rainbow origami and commemorative services not only to remember the dead but also to promote peace. The flame that burns doesn’t blaze for vengeance and it doesn’t seek retribution. It burns as a symbol of peace.
Across the water, on Miyajima Island, it’s easy to get swept up in the congested tourist port, weighed down with geisha shoes, rice scoops and calligraphy-licked trinkets.
Yet when the sunlight fades, these monuments provide quiet inspiration.
And even a glimpse of peace.