The day started with a ring bell, delivering a suitcase for someone I couldn’t hear the name of, and I just signed the paper half-awake.
Thus was my first contact with my future roommates I guess.
It was raining outside and the week is promising to be the same. I spent some time working on my grammar, mostly fuelled by the guilt of yesterday.
Around midday, I received a message from Mitsuki and joined her near the center of the city. Thank god she brought me out of the grammatical boredom I had thrown myself into.
I gotta say that stepping outside was harsh. It had just rained but it wasn’t enough to bring the temperatures down. We could have been in the middle of the jungle, it would have felt the same humidity-wise. Biking kind of help since you go to a certain speed and can feel a bit the wind, but when you stop, this hot humidity strikes you in the head.
I met Mitsuki and she showed me a special landmark of Nagasaki. The remains of a tori gate after the nuclear bomb. Half of it was blown away.
Nearby, two magnificent trees stand. They were standing in front of a temple that got destroyed and the trees were burned too. The inhabitants thought that the remaining trunks would perish as the rest of the city, but surprisingly, the trees grew back and engulfed the burned parts. Mitsuki told me that this ‘rebirth’ sign brought great hope to the people. If nature could find its way back, so could they.
The inside part of the tree, the burned one, needs to have a sort of medicinal paste applied on it because of the radiations. It looks like the application takes some months because the panels were saying that there’d be these metal constructions until December.
A humbling story about how much we can damage and yet, cannot destroy.
Then we met with some of Mitsuki’s friends. Two girls from the same university as I (and one with whom I’m sharing courses!) and a Chinese boy doing his exchange in Yokohama and visiting around Japan. His Japanese and English are flawless and I felt really small.
We visited the ‘peace’ museum of Nagasaki, but unlike the name suggests, it wasn’t done in the usual Japanese narrative of displaying the story of peace. This museum didn’t talk about what was done to Japan during the war but rather what Japan has done to others.
And here, it feels like a very refreshing view. I remember that we studied quite extensively at university the atrocities committed by the Japanese government/army during the war, may it be the dissection experiments on alive people in Manchuria, the occupied Korea and the attempt to destroy their culture or the sexual slaves used by the Japanese army through all Asia.
This time, I could see it from my own eyes with a lot of pictures displaying the conditions of the Koreans brought to Japan, and the massacres done in China. To be honest, some of the pictures were disturbing as could be and I wonder how the photographers must have felt. Some of the pictures were just naked corpses everywhere in a city. Bodies on top of each other in the street, just thrown there, some harshly wounded. Others were bodies that the Japanese tried to drown in China. They were brought to the shore and pushed for the river to take them away.
The most well-known picture is this Japanese army man holding the cut head of a Chinese. He’s smiling and the whole picture looks surreal.
It was kind of hard to digest, but even more interesting to visit with three Japanese and a Chinese.
I feel like this museum does participate into the peace narrative, as it’s a way to remember and learn from what should definitely not be done again. And there is no aggressivity in the message conveyed. It is more seen as ‘it was done, it happened, let’s know it and not deny it’ and the conversations we had later went through that same vibe. No ‘hard feelings’ but we all had a serious punch in the stomach. We know, we’ll learn from it.
Later on, Mitsuki and I went to a small cafe and were joined by the rest of the group. Nothing better to escape the heat and talk about lighter subjects.
We parted around 6 and I went back to my dorm with a light heart. It was not planned at all but I am really thankful Mitsuki was there, once more. It may seem dumb to say but I was glad to be hanging around with Japanese and be confronted with challenging subjects. It’s perfect to take my mind out of things!
Once back, I was able to discover two of my new roommates. They just arrived and I think the way back was harsh. But now the apartment isn’t empty anymore and some life is going to go back into it progressively. The fridge was even cleaned from all the forgotten stuff they left some weeks ago (nice discovery…!) so it’s perfect to start on clean bases… 😉