Day 3:    Kruisin' Kyoto

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Waking up in a cold city, ashen faced from getting bombed the night before, the Boys planned for a solemn visit to the Atomic Peace Park and a return in the daytime to the Atomic Dome. They had a busy day ahead with a train to catch in the afternoon to Kyoto, so grabbing a quick cup of coffee to shake off the effects of the alcohol, Mike and Bone caught the first cab in the cold and windy morning to the Atomic Peace Park.

Denied due to Holiday! The first place the Boys wanted to hit in the Morning was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, which is located in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. It is Japan's  dedicated place to documenting the atomic bombing that occurred on August 6th 1945, unfortunately it was closed for the week due to the New Year Holiday. Moving on, Mike and Bone started into the Park to check out some of the very solemn sites. 

The Mourning in Hiroshima

Mike and Bone as headed into the park it was important to recall what happened on that hot August 6th in 1945. The American deciding to bomb the Japanese due to their recalcitrance to surrender launched the B-29 Superfortress bomber Enola Gay of USAAF 393rd Bombardment Squadron, commanded by Colonel Paul Tibbets of the 509 Composite Bombardment Group, XX Air Force, from North Field of Tinian of the Mariana Islands on 6 Jun 1945 with their cargo code named "Little Boy".

About 60 minutes before the American bombers reached Hiroshima, they were detected by Japanese radar. Air raid warnings were sounded in several cities, including Hiroshima, but when it was determined that there were only three bombers, thus it was likely to be only a reconnaissance mission, some of the cities lifted the alarm. The Japanese military determined that aviation fuel was so precious that interceptors would not be launched just for three bombers. This might be caused from the regular visits that the US Army had been sending for the very purpose of making the Japanese lower their guards.

When the bombers reached Hiroshima, they found the weather conditions to be ideal. At 8:15 AM local time, from an altitude of 9,855 meters, "Little Boy" was released by bombardier Thomas Ferebee. 57 seconds later, at the predetermined altitude of 600 meters, the bomb detonated directly over Shima Surgical Clinic; the original aiming point was the Aioi Bridge, but wind blew it off course. The resulting blast was measured at 13 kilotons of TNT, reducing an area of one mile in radius to total ruin. Fires were started across an area 11.4 square-kilometers in size. Tibbets recalled:

A bright light filled the plane. The first shockwave hit us. We were eleven and a half miles slant range from the atomic explosion but the whole airplane cracked and crinkled from the blast.... We turned back to look at Hiroshima. The city was hidden by that awful cloud... mushrooming, terrible and incredibly tall.

Yoko Ota, a Japanese writer at Hiroshima at the time, could not comprehend what had happened to the city.

“I could not understand why our surroundings had changed so greatly in one instant. I thought it might have been something which had nothing to do with the war, the collapse of the earth which it was said would take place at the end of the world.”

About 70,000 to 80,000 people were killed immediately, many of whom probably had no idea what had happened. The 560 grams of Uranium 235 took about 10 nanoseconds of fission before a flash of light burst out of the bomb casing, releasing the first wave of gamma rays that traveled nearly at the speed of light. In 1/10,000 of a second, a second burst of gamma rays was released. In 3 milliseconds, a plasma fireball began to form. In 91 milliseconds, the bottom of the plasma fireball began to reach the top of the tallest buildings beneath the detonation. Soon after, a shock wave which traveled at twice the speed of sound came. The human nervous system required 1/30 of a second to register, and 1/10 of a second to flinch, thus for those who were close to the detonation, the blood in the victims' brains were likely evaporating before they could feel anything.

They were the lucky ones. Many of the about 70,000 who were injured by the bomb suffered much worse fate.

Many who survived the initial flash became severely burned, even though the flash only lasted for a fraction of a second. Many people who were burned so quickly and so severely that, as survivors told, they resembled living pieces of charcoal, wandering mindlessly unless they collapsed and died. Many people were miraculously saved by shock cocoons, thick concrete walls, or other opportune defense against the gamma rays, fireball, and shock wave, but many of them would fall victim of radiation poisoning, some dying violently while vomiting out their insides while others simply slipped away. While doctors and other medical professionals could do little for the radiation poisoning that they knew nothing about, they could do little even with the more traditional injuries. Most of the city's hospitals were located in the area of Hiroshima that was destroyed, thus over 90% of medical professionals were killed at the moment of detonation. On top of that, medical equipment, medicine, and most other things that they needed to treat their patients were destroyed. To make matters worse, radiation was at dangerous levels even days after the explosion, thus some of those who escaped harm without even a single bruise would suddenly lose all their hair and suffer unstoppable nosebleeds seemingly out of nowhere. By the end of 1945, Hiroshima's atomic bomb victims would increase to somewhere between 90,000 and 150,000.

It was at this point in the story that Mike and Bone found the sobering remains of 70,000 of the bombing. 

The remains of 70,000 Atomic Bomb casualties

The Atomic Memorial Mound is about 1/8th of a mile from the Atomic Dome and the Bridge that was the target, also known as the “hypocenter. This area near the hypocenter was strewn with corpses after the bombing. Innumerable corpses, including those pulled out of the river, were brought here and cremated. In 1946, individual donations enabled the construction of a temporary memorial mound, a temporary vault, and a chapel. Ten years later in 1955, Hiroshima City took over the project and rebuilt the decrepit vault. Unclaimed ashes that had been kept in various other places were also brought to the new vault.

The Atomic Memorial Mound

The current vault lies under the mound and contains the ashes of roughly 70,000 victims. These were persons whose ashes were unclaimed because the entire family had perished or because they were persons of unknown identity. It is a very sobering sight to see this relatively small hill filled with what would be three quarter's of University of Michigan Stadium Game was certainly a sobering experience for the Boys. 

The next stop for the Boys was the Atomic Peace Bell which consists of a large Japanese bell hanging inside a small open-sided structure. Visitors are encouraged to ring the bell for world peace and the loud and melodious tolling of this bell rings out regularly throughout the Peace Park. The Peace Bell was built out in the open on September 20, 1964. The surface of the bell is a map of the world, and the "sweet spot" is an atomic symbol. The inscriptions on the bell are in Greek, Japanese, and Sanskrit. It is translated as "Know yourself." The Greek embassy donated the bell to the Peace Park and picked out the most appropriate ancient Greek philosophical quote of Socrates. The Sanskrit was translated by the Indian ambassador, and the Japanese by a university lecturer.

There, Mike and Bone rang out their desire for world peace and a good game for Michigan against Kansas State!

The Atomic Dome Juxtapositioned against the Atomic Dump!

A funny thing happened after ringing the bell, the peace and tranquillity vibes surged through the Boys bodies encouraging them to release the badness in their bodies, which including purging themselves of the tepanaki and beers from the night before, thereby turning the Bathroom ( which is juxa-positioned in the picture above to the Atomic Dome) into the Atomic Dump!

The Atomic Dome by Day

The American's Target, the Aioi Bridge

One of ironies of the Hiroshima Atomic bombing is that the Japanese are keen to point out is the very bridge that the Americans were trying to take out stood through the bombing and still stands today, which has now also held up to an atomic dump of Mike and Bone !

Redoing the Genbaku Dome

The most iconic symbol in the park is the Atomic Dome, called by the Japanese the Genbaku (“A-Bomb”) Dome. The building was designed by the Czech architect Jan Letzel. The design included a distinctive dome at the highest part of the building. It was completed in April 1915 and was named the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition (HMI). It was formally opened to the public in August that year. In 1921, the name was changed to the Hiroshima Prefectural Products Exhibition Hall, and again, in 1933, to the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.  

The building was located in the large business district next to the Aioi Bridge and was primarily used for arts and educational exhibitions. The building was the only structure left standing near the bomb’s hypocenter. It was called the Genbaku Dome, due to the exposed metal dome framework at its apex, the structure was scheduled to be demolished with the rest of the ruins, but the majority of the building was intact, delaying the demolition plans. The Dome became a subject of controversy, with some locals wanting it torn down, while others wanted to preserve it as a memorial of the bombing and a symbol of peace.  

Ultimately, when the reconstruction of Hiroshima began, the skeletal remains of the building were preserved. From 1950 through 1964, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was established around the Dome. The Hiroshima City Council adopted a resolution in 1966 on the permanent preservation of the Genbaku Dome, officially named the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome).

The Dome was packed with people, both Japanese and foreigners. There were a number of Tour Groups hearing of the horrors of August 6th. Wandering around it Mike and Bone caught up with a survivor that had an fascinating story to share (in English) with whomever would listen. 

Mike and Bone with an Atomic Bomb Survivor

The very nice Gentleman above was an infant when the Bomb went off in Hiroshima. He, his Mother, and Grandfather were 15 kilometers away in a country house that his Grandfather owned, they paid attention to the American flyers that warned the Japanese citizens to leave the city, and were hiding out in the country. Fortunately for the Family only their house collapsed on them with no one suffering major injuries. Unfortunately, the Grandfather went into Hiroshima's hypocenter to check on their other House (which was totally destroyed) and was exposed to the high degrees of radiation. He suffered radiation poisoning which included loss of hair, weight loss, skin mottling, and even losing his stomach lining through excessive vomiting. He died within a month of the bombing. The Mother ended up with health problems but recovered and was now in her 90's! The Gentleman that Mike and Bone was talking to grew up, became a high school teacher in Hiroshima teaching English. Now retired, he goes every day down to the Genbaku Dome to talk to foreigners about the horrors he experienced growing up. Mike and Bone thanked him for his time and moved on to the many, many people presenting and protesting different Japanese and International topics primarily focused on Atomic topics.

One gentleman was protesting nuclear energy, when Bone asked him why was he against nuke plants, the gentleman shared that while he currently lived in Hiroshima, his house was right outside the failed Fukojima Nuke Plant!

Apparently after the earthquake and the tsunami caused Fukojima to start to leak radiation, the Japanese Government had this gentleman leave his house immediately, and he has never been back! Ironically the Japanese Government re-settled him in Hiroshima! This Gentleman had a very good point when he said that 7 of Japans Nuke plants (which provide 75% of all of Japan's energy) are located on earthquake faults. It does make one think.....

After that conversation, the Boys decided to move on, they could have spent the whole day just talking to all the different protesters, but they wanted to check out Hiroshima Castle before they had to catch the train to Kyoto!

Hiroshima Castle Complex

Catching a cab the Boys only had a two mile trip to another Hiroshima attraction, Hiroshima Castle! Hiroshima was a castle in Hiroshima, Japan which was the home of the daimyō (feudal lord) of the Hiroshima han (fief). Mōri Terumoto, one of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's council of Five Elders, established Hiroshima castle in 1589 at the delta of the Otagawa river.

Hiroshima Castle

 There was no Hiroshima city or town at the time, and the area was called Gokamura, meaning 'five villages.' Beginning in 1591, Mōri governed nine provinces from this castle, including much of what is now Shimane, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama and Hiroshima Prefectures. When construction on the castle began, Gokamura was renamed Hiroshima, as a more impressive name was called for. "Hiro" was taken from Ōe no Hiromoto, an ancestor of the Mōri family, and "Shima" was taken from Fukushima Motonaga who helped Mōri Terumoto choose the castle site. Some accounts state that the name 'Hiroshima', meaning literally 'wide island', comes from the existence of several large islands in the delta of the Otagawa, near the castle's site.

 During the final months of World War II, the castle served as the headquarters of the 2nd General Army and Fifth Division to deter the projected Allied invasion of the Japanese mainland, thus making a castle, along with other military and industrial facilities in the city, a legitimate military target. As a result, it was destroyed in the atomic bomb blast of August 6, 1945, and for many years, it was believed the castle structure was blown away by the explosion that destroyed Hiroshima, but newly discovered evidence suggests the explosion only destroyed the lower pillars of the castle, and the rest of it collapsed as a result. The present reconstructed tower, constructed largely of concrete, was completed in 1958.    

Mike and Bone walked around marvelling at the intricate architecture and thinking about the distance from the Hypocenter at Genbaku Dome to the Hiroshima Castle and the blast radius, when they came to a Atom Bomb Survivor! 

Another Atomic Bomb Survivor!

Within the castle walls, three trees survived the atomic bombing, a eucalyptus and a willow, and a holly ! While this specimen above may still be living, it is very apparent it "ain't right" and mutated due to the blast and the radiation. By now, it was pushing 1:00 PM and the Boys had to catch a Train! 

Training for Kyoto !

There was a few frantic moments where the Boys were not sure they were gonna make the Train to Kyoto due to a lack of Taxi's near the Castle. Fortunately they got one for the 15 minute ride to the Train Station that would give them another Mike and Bone dramatic entrance with 5 minutes to go!

Fortunately the Boys made the Train for a 1 1/2 hour ride up to the Ancient Capital of Japan, Kyoto!

Amazing Kyoto!!

Getting into the packed City, the Boys got the last hotel room in the whole dang City, dropped their stuff and headed to one of 1800 historic sites in Kyoto!

Kyoto located in the central part of the Japanese island of Honshu. It is not a small city, with a population close to 1.5 million. It is known throughout the world as the former imperial capital of Japan for more than one thousand years. It has been known as the City of Ten Thousand Shrines.

Although archaeological evidence suggests human settlement in Kyoto basin as early as the Paleolithic period, relatively little is known about human activity in the area before the 6th century AD, around which time the Shimogamo Shrine is believed to have been established.

During the 8th century, when powerful Buddhist clergy became involved in the affairs of the Imperial government, the Emperor chose to relocate the capital to a region far from the Buddhist influence. Emperor Kammu selected the village of Uda which was to become Kyoto, was a scaled replica of the then Tang capitals Luoyang and Chang'an.

Kyoto became the seat of Japan's imperial court in 794, since then military rulers established their governments either in Kyoto (Muromachi shogunate) or in other cities such as Kamakura (Kamakura shogunate) and Edo (Tokugawa shogunate). Kyoto remained Japan's capital until the transfer of the imperial court to Tokyo in 1869 at the time of the Imperial Restoration. (Some believe that it is still a legal capital: see Capital of Japan.)

There was some consideration by the United States of targeting Kyoto with an atomic bomb at the end of World War II because, as an intellectual center of Japan, it had a population "better able to appreciate the significance of the weapon." In the end, at the insistence of Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, the city was removed from the list of targets and replaced by Nagasaki. The city was largely spared from conventional bombing as well, although small-scale air raids did result in casualties.

That is why Kyoto is one of the few Japanese cities that still have an abundance of pre-war buildings such as their Buddhist and Shinto shrines.

With the day starting to wane around 3:30, the Boys wanted to get a chance to start checking out some of the sites and started with Kiyomizu-Dera!

Checking out the Kiyomizu-Dera Buddhist Temple!

First stop for Mike and Bone on their walking tour of Kyoto was Kiyomizu-Dera. This Buddhist Temple is as old as Kyoto in that it was founded in 798, and is truly a work of aesthetic and engineering art, there is not a single nail used in the entire structure! It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

 It was originally affiliated with the old and influential Hossō Buddhist sect. However, in 1965 it severed that affiliation, and its present custodians call themselves members of the "Kitahossō" sect.

Kiyomizu-Dera is situated on one of the mountain ranges the create the valley for Kyoto. It provided Mike and Bone an awesome view of Kyoto!

Gee! a Geisha in Gion!

Kyoto is a place of magical places and magical beings, Just as Mike and Bone left Kiyomizu-Dera when lo and behold, there was one of those magical creatures, a Geisha right in front of the Boys!

Though geisha can be found throughout Japan, Kyoto is considered the birthplace of geisha culture. Contrary to unsavory myths, geisha are actually professional entertainers hired to perform and interact with guests during dinners and other occasions. Hired to attend parties and private gatherings at ochaya (teahouses) and ryōtei (traditional Japanese restaurants), no one knows where a Geisha will be called to work and the exclusivity of their company means they are not a common sight. Not only do you have to pay the equivalent of hundreds or even thousands of dollars but, in many cases, you must be invited by another person.

Therefore, to behold one within the old streets of the ‘Geisha District’ of Gion in Kyoto, as they make their way to work, is a very special sight indeed, which made this sighting very special for Mike and Bone.

Mike, Bone, and the Yasaka-no-to Pagoda !

As Mike and Bone walk through down Higashioji-dori (dori is a street), a long pagoda rising overlooking the floating world of Gion below, Yasaka-no-to Pagoda is a lovely sight by day or night.

While most pagodas come complete with temples, Yasaka-no-to Pagoda stands mostly alone, the buildings of the temple of which it once belonged (Hokan-ji Temple) having been destroyed by fires, earthquakes and wars over the years.

The Boys were thankful that this pagoda survived, because it’s awesome. It stands at the top of Yasaka-dori, which is itself unique for the lack of overhead power lines, which were removed to preserve the view of the pagoda.

Ryozen Kannon

Ryozen Kannon or the “Giant Buddha, A Shrine to WWII” As Mike and Bone walked through Gion District and Maruyama Park, they came across this Giant Buddha build in 1955 as a shrine to world peace.  On Building to the right of the statue were the names of all the soldiers who had died in World War II.

One of the Bazillion Shrines in Gion

You can actually get "punch drunk" with all the history, shrines and kool buildings in the Gion District. As Mike and Bone wandered North they kept passing neat little shrines to Buddha or to Shintoism. They tried to pick up the pass as they were rapidly were losing daylight.

Doing Daitokuji Temple

Mike and Bone next came upon the Daitokuji Temple. Built in 1315 Daitokuji is a large temple complex with 22 sub-temples including some with famous Japanese Gardens. It is well known and recognized for its beauty and is a designated Special Place of Scenic Beauty. It features a very large Sanmon (main gate - Important Cultural Property), Butsuden (Buddha Hall - Important Cultural Property), Hatto (Dharma Hall - Important Cultural Property), Hojo (Abbot's Quarters - National Treasure), Yokushitsu (Bath House), Karamon (Chinese Gate - National Treasure), Chokushimon (Imperial Messenger Gate) and Kyozo (Sutra Library). The Karamon (Chinese Gate) was moved to Daitokuji Temple from Fushimi Castle and the Chokushimon (Imperial Messenger Gate) came from the Imperial Palace grounds. There was a lot of ground to cover, and in a short time !

 

Mike and Bone did their bet and covered most of the Temple, but sadly the sun was really starting to go down so they boogied up the hillside into a cemetery to catch a final view of the old Imperial City!

The Awesome Sunset over the Mountains of Kyoto !!

With it getting dark Mike and Bone decided to head out of the Gion District and stumbled in to a very kool housing area!

Wandering Gion Shirakawa

The Boys passed through an amazing set of houses (owned by geisha's?) that looked like they were built 500 years ago but still liveable to this day. It was yet one more wonder in Kyoto!

Mike and Bone: Buddhist !?!

Leaving the Gion District the Boys first browsed the tourist stores for family goodies, striking out do to a lack of ideas, interest, or jut being hungry and thirsty, made the Boys abandon the search and head out for some sustenance!

Irish Pubs?!? in Kyoto!?!?!

Leave it to Bone to find a good English and Irish Pub ANYWHERE in the world! The recon trip he took the week before with his daughter Katie gave him 3 good places to partake of the Brown Creature otherwise known as Guinness. The first stop for Mike and Bone was the Pig and Whistle which was right on the river. Stopping in the Boys ordered some Newcastle's and what turned out to be some under-whelming pizza (they forgot they were in Japan, not New York!)

After the Piizza, the scene at the Pig and Whistle just did not have the right vibe, so they walked along the river down to a great little Irish Pub called the Gael Irish Pub, which had a great vibe!

The Guinness was great and the Bushmill's was flowing!!! The Boys partied on well into the night to the point that when they left around 1:00 AM, the Taxi ride back as a little blurry for both Boys!