Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum collects and displays the belongings left by the victims, photos, and other materials that convey the horror of the world's first atomic bombing of populated area on August 6, 1945.

Atomic (Genbaku) Dome
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) was the only structure left standing in the area where the first atomic bomb exploded on 6 August 1945. The building was the only one left standing near the epicenter of the bomb blast, albeit in skeletal form.

Through the efforts of many people, including those of the city of Hiroshima, the build has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing. Not only is it a stark and powerful symbol of the most destructive force ever created by humankind; it also expresses the hope for world peace and the ultimate elimination of all nuclear weapons.

The Peace Memorial Park, in which the Dome is the principal landmark, was laid out between 1950 and 1964. The Peace Memorial Museum in the Park was opened in 1955. Since 1952 the Park has been the scene of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, held annually on 6 August.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is a stark and powerful symbol of the achievement of world peace for more than half a century following the unleashing of the most destructive force ever created by humanity. It was preserved in that state when reconstruction of the city began. In 1966 the Hiroshima City Council adopted a resolution that the Atomic Bomb Dome should be preserved in Perpetuity.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Itsukushima - Miyajima, Hatsukaichi - Hiroshima, Japan

Itsukushima is an island in the western part of the Inland Sea of Japan, located in the northwest of Hiroshima Bay. It is popularly known as Miyajima the Shrine Island, best known for its famous "floating" O-torii gate. The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Japanese government has designated several buildings and possessions as National Treasures. The area designated for World Heritage comprises of the 431 hectares including the Itsukushima Shrine, and the adjacent sea, and the Mt Misen Primeval Forest (National Treasure) to the rear.

The O-torii Gate is about 16 meters in height and weighs about 60 tons. The main pillars are 9.9 meters in circumference, and made of natural camphor trees, while the four supporting pillars are made of natural cedar. The present O-torii was erected in 1875, and the eighth since the Heian Period (the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185).

According to records, the shrine was established in the time of Empress Suiko. The warrior-courtier Taira no Kiyomori gave the shrine its present form. In 1555, Mōri Motonari defeated Sue Harukata at the Battle of Miyajima. Toyotomi Hideyoshi built a large building, the Senjō-kaku, on a hill above the shrine.

The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century, and the shrine has been destroyed many times. The present shrine dates from the mid-16th century, and follows the earlier 12th century design. That design was established in 1168, when funds were provided by the warlord Taira no Kiyomori.

The island of Itsukushima, including the waters around it (part of Seto Inland Sea), are within Setonaikai National Park. This sea is affected by strong tides. At low tide, the bottom of the sea is exposed past the island's O-torii. At high tide, the sea covers all the previously exposed mud and fills areas underneath the shrine.

The Itsukushima Shrine at high tide, when it appears to float on the water. The shrine was designed and built on pier-like structures over the bay so that it would appear to be floating on the water, separate from the sacred island, which could be approached by the devout.

Mt. Misen is the highest peak on Miyajima island, 535 meters above sea level. Since the year 806 it has attracted devout worshipers. The natural environment has been kept intact which creates magnificent scenery.

Mt. Misen Ropeway (unfortunately it was a rainy day)
The Miyajima Ropeway is a network of gondolas that traverse the island, which is rare and unique in Japan and is often described as walking in the sky.

Wait at the ropeway station platform between gondola changes
Kiezu-no-Reikado Hall is located about 20 minutes on foot from Shishiiwa Ropeway Station. The holy fire that Kobo Daishi lit for his ascetic training has been kept burning for over 1,200 years in Reikado Hall. The hall has been designated a "Lover:s Sanctuary" as the flame is akin to the eternal fire of love.

Kiezu-no-Reikado Hall

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Akira Kurosawa - Rashomon

Rashomon is a 1950 Japanese drama directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film depicts the rape of a woman and the murder of her samurai husband through the widely differing accounts of four witnesses, including the bandit/rapist, the wife, the dead man (speaking through a medium), and lastly a woodcutter, the one witness that seems the most objective and least biased. Kurosawa when asked by his assistants to explain his script explained “Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing. This script portrays such human beings—the kind who cannot survive without lies to make them feel they are better people than they really are.”