I don't think much about that time now, it's eclipsed by the times before and after it, and has been relegated to the dustbin of my memories. It should, I suppose, occupy a more prominent spot in the hierarchy of the events of my life, but somehow it's escaped attention, or at least I've not given it it's due.
The recent 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima made me think of that time; but here in the numbing cocoon of food and sun that is LA, it required an effort to bring it back. I did have some photo's from the time I'd scanned over the years and put in a forgotten folder on my ancient laptop to help me.
I had scant Japanese language when I went there, and was forced to learn quickly; the department I worked in, the laboratory, had no english speakers. I worked as an 'Igor'....I don't know if any of you know what that is in lab-speak, but it was the only job I was remotely qualified for.
Over the several months I was there I met several survivors of the blast, it was only a little over 20 years since the event. I made friends with co-workers, not as many as I would have liked, but I was little prepared for the Japanese mind set that valued privacy above all else, and formality was the common denominator. It did not lend itself to quick friendships.
I live in a small town/village several kilometers up the coast of the inland sea, a place called Otake.
I took the train, something of a commuter into Hiroshima to work, first 3 then 4 days a week.
The buildings were all Quonset huts, albeit large ones, and I understand they exist today.
It was over 20 years since the blast, but keloid scars were still apparent in abundance among the daily people who came for treatment and research. The most common disease we saw at the time was leukemia and various gastrointestinal diseases.
On weekends and frequent small vacations I took there I went to Peace Park often, the park at the epicenter of the blast. A museum with photos and artifacts is there, with several monuments dedicated to the victims.
If you look closely you can see strands hanging from the underside of this structure; they are 'peace origami', cranes, made then by local children in memory of the thousands of children killed in the blast.
When I took this one above, I didn't realize just how a common a picture it would be, the view of the dome left standing after the blast viewed through the arch. It seems that it's been taken millions of times.
I'm not interested in the discussion of whether or not dropping the bomb was a proper thing to do given the times and the war causalities on both sides. It doesn't matter to me whether it was justified or not. The fact is it happened, and we did it. We opened that door, that pandora's box, and it will, and should, forever haunt us and the rest of humanity.