For those that don’t read my LJ or don’t have access to it… I was in Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan from 25 November through 12 December to accompany one of our short term travel courses. It was a good, bad and humbling experience in many ways. Kyoto’s leaves were turning and this brought many tourists out to the temples and natural areas of the prefecture.


While in Kyoto, where it was more of a welcome to Japan, get settled have a bit of fun kind of schedule than our coursework schedule we had a chance to visit multiple temples and famous areas in Kyoto and Nara. Nara was fun because of the deer that roam about in the park area and the way in which they chase you for food!

ha! Got a deer biscuit

This mean bastard actually chased us around and headbutted me right in the arse!
Mean old deer

Not all of the deer running around were mean and crabby, for instance this adorable little fawn who tried to beg for food but her mum wouldn’t let us get too close.
Awww! baby deer

After the fun and scenic views of Kyoto and Nara we headed off to Hiroshima
Genbaku dome
to begin the real work on our trip. The purpose of the course was to look at the ethics of using the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

We spoke with Hibakusha Dr. Hida (atomic bomb survivors), who told us of the living hell, that was the aftermath of the bomb and how he treated those who had fled to the mountains to look for help, and others who died while they stood by helplessly not understanding why the people were dying with such odd symptoms or so quickly. Dr. Hida is the last Hibakusha who is living that is a medical doctor.
Dr. Hida & Yuki

toured the museum and heard lectures from a True Pure Land Buddhist reverend (Rev. Koji) on their take on the bombing. In the photo below our professor,Dr. Yuki Miyamoto translates his lecture to us.

Yuki & Rev. Koji

Part of our work was to look at the artwork done by survivors of the bombing, and that is one thing that really tore my heart in half. To see the depiction of such hell on earth done by people 10, 20, 30 even 50 years later and to see the clarity that the event still has for them is horrifying. I don’t think I could live through something like that and retain my sanity. The photo below is of a famous painting done by a survivor who was a professional artist, who did this one painting only… the figure in the upper right hand corner is Amida Buddha who weeps yet looks angry at the destruction below.

Painting by A-Bomb survivor

Hiroshima wasn’t all just lecture and learning. On the last Sunday there some of us went to Miyajima, where the great O’Torii gate in the sea is located.

we did have a group dinner at Otis the last night in the city, as a way to release any stress that may have come from first hand contact with such a heavy topic. Otis, Black Music & Tex-Mex foods

Then we were off to Nagasaki the next morning. I’ll finish up with Nagasaki in a follow up post.