March 31: Review from a moving train

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Moving again, this time back to Okayama for two nights then on to Kyoto where I will remain for most of the rest of the trip. I must admit I am getting tired of all this wandering.

I came to Hiroshima to see only one garden, Shukkeien, which I got to on the day I arrived. It was very crowded, being Saturday and being filled with cherry blossoms. When I walked in I unfortunately picked up a volunteer guide who thought he spoke English. I tried several times to politely get rid of him with no success. Finally, after walking around for some time, I pleaded the need to sit down and was able to tell him I could manage by myself. I realize I like being by myself in a place where I want to absorb my surroundings and to photograph.

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Traveling around, looking at gardens outside of major urban centers or temples, I have come to realize how much history these gardens encompass. I knew the concept of creating a garden was very old. But I never thought about their importance as part of Japanese history. The gardens I have been looking at, outside of Kyoto, were created by or for the overlord (daimyo) of the area, used for his entertainment and increased his prestige. I think it might be possible to do a history of Japan based on the creation of gardens.

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I don’t know what I had in mind when I decided to spend two nights in Hiroshima, but none of the day trips appealed to me yesterday, so I walked back to Shukkeien, arriving just as it opened, and managed to walk around for another hour, sans crowds and English guide. According to the brochure, the name  “literally ‘shrink scenery garden’ expresses the idea of collecting and miniaturizing many scenic views, and according to tradition it is a miniaturized landscape modeled on Xihu (West Lake) in Hangzhou, China.

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The garden was destroyed by the A bomb, with the exception of this stone bridge.

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Many of the people who were severely wounded by the bomb sought refuge in the garden but no medical help arrived. Their bodies were interred beneath the garden.

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I find Hiroshima very difficult. I cannot stop thinking about what happened here, even though it is now a beautiful, modern city whose population seems no different than any other large urban area.

A-bomb dome. Remains as a memorial.

A-bomb dome. Remains as a memorial.

After the garden I visited the Prefectural Art Museum where I was hoping to see crafts done by famous artists, but as is so often the case, very little was on display. I was able to see some interesting contemporary art by Hiroshima artists.

I went back to the hotel to decide what to do next, and eventually went for a long walk in the downtown shopping area. Besides the large department stores that still seem to thrive here there are many covered arcades; just a covered street with no vehicular traffic and shops on both sides. These places are always crowded and seem to thrive. How is it that our attempts at creating such arcades have never succeeded? I seem to have more questions than answers.

One thought on “March 31: Review from a moving train

  1. That’s a really wonderful rebuilt garden. Thank you so much for taking us with you. How terribly sad that so many took refuge there and died.

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