Nagasaki is a beautiful city marred by the tragic event of August 9th, 1945.
We spent two nights and one full day in this city rebuilt from the ashes. It’ll always carry the shadow of this day:
The Fat Man blew up the city.
Replica of Fat Man
I don’t want to debate whether it was wrong or right. I’ve already had this discussion with my husband and other Japanese friends. I found their opinions the most knowledgeable and profound.
As for what happened, it wasn’t supposed to happen to Nagasaki. The city wasn’t even on the shortlist of targets for the atomic bomb. Kyoto was. Kyoto was at the top of the list, and for this reason never did a single bomb fall on Kyoto during the entire war. Kyoto was entirely spared by its placement on that list. When Kyoto was removed, Nagasaki took its place.
Even after Kyoto was removed from the list in a famous story you can find HERE, Nagasaki was not a primary target due to his mountains and hills. On August 9th, the Fat Man was supposed to drop on the city of Kokura, but bad weather saved the city. The Bockscar, the plane carrying the Fat Man, was redirected to Nagasaki in a last minute change of plans. The bad weather over Nagasaki almost saved the city as well, but a part in the clouds doomed Nagasaki.
More information can be found HERE.
Inside the Atomic Bomb Peace Memorial Museum
In Nagasaki we began the day visiting the Atomic Bomb Peace Memorial Museum. My husband thought it was better than the one in Hiroshima, but it’s all been renovated recently. The museum is very neutral and focuses mainly on what the people of Nagasaki endured during and after the bomb struck.
Ironically, we ended our evening in the park that marks the hypocenter of the Fat Man.
The center of the explosion
Wreaths and flower bouquets were still here since the anniversary ceremony was three days prior. There are open water bottles left on the altar and many of the monuments. When I asked my husband why, he answered simply, “Because it was too hot. They (the survivors) needed water.”
He didn’t say anymore. He didn’t have to. His words sank in slowly as I took in what he meant.
They pay tribute by leaving water on the altars and memorial sites for the dead.
Oddly, we arrived to the museum at 11:00 am and walked into the exhibition at around 11:02. We didn’t know the significance of that number until we passed by all the broken clocks left on display. They had all stopped at 11:02, the moment of detonation.
Nagasaki has recovered and remains a beautiful city. In the next post I’ll talk about what we did during the day, after the Peace Museum.