Saturday, October 24, 2015

Carpe Diem #844 Hiroshima Lantern festival

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Welcome at a new episode of Carpe Diem Haiku Kai's third anniversary month. In this episode I will look at the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This attack was the end of the second world war, but ... now ... more than 70 years later its the one topic issue to which our thoughts go as we talk about Hiroshima.

Hiroshima is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. The city's name, means "Wide Island" in Japanese. Hiroshima gained city status on April 1, 1889. On April 1, 1980, Hiroshima became a designated city. As of 2006, the city had an estimated population of 1,154,391. Kazumi Matsui has been the city's mayor since April 2011.

Hiroshima is best known as the first city in history to be targeted by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped an atomic bomb on the city at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, near the end of World War II.

The city’s flower is the Oleander, because the Oleander was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.

Credits: Oleander, the flower of Hiroshima
As a child I was afraid that someday such an atomic bomb would destroy the whole world. I saw the photos of the destruction of Hiroshima and that made me very anxious and tears streaming over my cheeks. Those photos had a huge impact on me ... maybe that was one of the reasons that I became a nurse and a haiku poet. Both things made me whom I am now.

Today we are invited to the Hiroshima Lantern festival it's part of the Hiroshima Peace memorial and it takes place every year on August 6th. 
August 6th is a significant day for anyone in Hiroshima. Although most businesses run as usual, school children are called into school for "peace education" and many locals and tourists gather in the central Peace Park to reflect on lives loss and hope for a peaceful future.

The Peace Memorial Ceremony starts at 8:15am each year in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb, which was dropped above Hiroshima at that time on August 6, 1945. At the start of the ceremony, the park's Peace Bell is rung and sirens sound across the city. Despite the park being completely packed with people, everyone stands perfectly still to observe a minute's silence, allowing you to really feel the power of this moment.

On this occasion, there are usually a few political speeches and testimony by those who lived through the event as well as those who lost loved ones. There are also short speeches by children growing up in Hiroshima about their hopes for a peaceful future. The ceremony also includes a release of 1,000 doves (after the Mayor's Speech) and the end of the ceremony is marked by a 450 member chorus and wind ensemble performing the "Hiroshima Peace Song".

In the evening, there is the lantern festival (our theme today) where over 10,000 lanterns are put into the water next to the A-bomb memorial and across the river from the steps in front of the information center. The evening activities are less formal, there are no long speeches, but it is a very powerful experience. As the light from the dome shines down on the water lit by the many colorful lanterns floating downstream. (Beneath you can watch a video about this event)

What to say more ... after this video I am speechless. let us hope and pray that the use of this kind of destruction will never occur again.

Maybe you know the meaning of the Crane. The Crane stands for thousand years or everlasting life. At the grounds of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the monuments are decorated with garlands of folded Cranes, it's a wonderful sight and it makes you humble ... all those Cranes folded through the hands of children  to remember those who died during the atomic bomb attack of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It's the story of strength ... the Japanese are very strong people and I think we all can learn from them.

silent remembrance
lanterns float towards the horizon
prayers rise

© Chèvrefeuille

This episode is open for your submissions tonight at 7.00 PM (CET) and will remain open until October 27th at noon (CET). I will (try to) post our new episode, Niihama Taiko Festival, later on. For now ... have fun, but with respect to those lost in this atomic bombing.

1 comment:

  1. I remember feeling the same fear after reading the book, Heroshima, in my youth...that man might destroy himself with such horrific weapons