Nagasaki Peace Park - The Silence of War
Located to the north of Nagasaki, the park is where memories of war is restored.
Nagasaki is known for its near-collapsing beauty, where the ruins of what used to be a lively city more than 70 years ago, and the stunning self-recovery of infrastructure are combined in the most elegant way. Its Peace Park is something in between, where new generations feel strongly connected to a long lost world.
I had a chance to visit the place for the first time via an exchange program. A year later, I decided to come back one more time on the occasion that my sister came to Japan for travelling. If there is any place in Kyushu where you can show your family the compass of Japanese people's belief, it ought to be Nagasaki Peace Park.
The Peace Park was built in 1955, 10 years after the atomic bomb destroyed top parts of a hill where it locates now.
The park is a complex that includes two parks and one memorial museum. To get there from the station, we took the tram passing 6-7 stops in about 3 minutes. The tram system is also a special feature of Nagasaki, which runs across the whole city and way cheaper than bus fares.
It was already afternoon when my sister and I arrived at the park. It was so big that initially, we did not know where the entrance was.
Walking under the late autumn red trees, we came across several human-sized statues along the way, which were all carved in restful emotions meant to remind of, but forgive, the devastating bombing that happened in August 9th, 1945. The sculptures were varied, contributed to the park not only by Japanese sculptors but also by many other countries in the world as a way to show sympathy on the loss of lives in Nagasaki.
Here in the Park at some specific corners, you will notice colourful strings held in the abundance of 20 or more. At first, I did not know what they were. If you take a closer look, you will make out they are strings of paper cranes.
Originated from a touchable true story of Sadako Sasaki, a bomb-affected little girl that had tried to fold 1000 origami cranes to make a wish before she died, paper cranes have ever since become a symbol dedicated to innocent victims in Japan.
Then there was a long escalator to help visitors reach the highest point in the Park, where they can approach the Peace Statue.
Designed in April 1955 by Japanese sculptor Seibo Kitamura, the 9.7-meter-high statue was dedicated to several aspects of peace and war, of the fallen generations and the survived ones. It was, undoubtedly, the soul of the Park.
On my return trip to Nagasaki, on seeing the Peace Statue, my sister asked me what his pose meant. I gently repeated exactly what my TA had explained to me a year ago, on the same question.
One of his arms is pointing to the sky, which is to warn about the incoming nuclear weapons and the attacking helicopters. Meanwhile, the other arm stretches out to extend and symbolize the peace.
There were more to it, I thought.
Every detail of the Peace Statue has its own message: his closing eyes said prayers, the entire pose was resting but his left leg was stamping down as if he was about to stand up and fight back, or to help the world clear of wars and sacrifice.
The statue was beautiful to me in every aspect.
His pale blue skin glittered so well in the warm and very unique vanilla sunshine of Nagasaki. The sculpted fabric the statue was wearing as clothes over his muscular body reminded me of powerful ancient gods, who now might exist everywhere in Nagasaki to nourish the afterwar love and peace. But then, his face, which was a mixture of sorrow, hope, forgiveness and protective, appeared so humane.
The Peace Park was not just a memorial place, but also proof that Japan has risen from the most tragic events to become what it is today.
Going to the Peace Park in Nagasaki might appear more of a study trip than an enjoyable trip, but if you love to see the core lying inside Japanese people's spirits, then why not?
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