Friday, September 21, 2012

Stop and Look Around

Leora is supposed to write this week, but I’m going to give her a week off.

I’m writing this on a Thursday evening – Japan time.  I’m sitting in a little bit of a snooty outdoor café overlooking a beautiful stream.  The waiters are stacking oranges in the displays out front, but I’m now under the impression that they are for show and not for eating.

I’m sipping away at a Hoegaarden White.  As expected, it is just as good in mainland Japan as it is in the States.  One can never be too sure, so I might have to order another.

Across the river there is a beautiful green park full of exactly the trees that you would expect to see in a beautiful green park, all manicured to perfection.  I would expect nothing less from Japan.

There is music nearby emanating from the park.  There are definitely little cymbals and a string instrument.  I would say there is a piano, but that seems unlikely.

Behind me, the streets are bustling.  I almost makes me think of Central Park.  How it almost seems weird that there is a real city just outside the confines of the park.  The park has a life of its own.

A Japanese baseball team just ran in front of me, laughing and having a good time.  Purple uniforms with electric green writing was not a good decision.  They should get some Oriole’s Magic.  Orange and Black.

The snooty waiters are now giving me a look for being on my computer in their snooty café.  I order another beer and they seem to mind a little less.  I’m a sailor, buddy.  If it comes down to it, I can do this all night.  Bring an orange with the next beer.

Another beer.  No orange.

I know my drinking a beer is hardly newsworthy, but I’m drinking a beer in Hiroshima.  I’m sitting maybe 50 feet from the epicenter of the blast that killed hundreds of thousands of souls some 70 years ago.

Considering that seventy years ago, there was literally nothing in the city, Hiroshima is now a sprawling metropolis.

I remember how I first felt when I sat down in Oswiezem, the Polish town located just outside of the gates of the Auschwitz Death Camp.  How can a person live here?  How can you make your daily life on the very ground where so many perished?

They said in the museum that following the blast, the people were told that nothing green will grow in Hiroshima for at least 75 years.  They defied the odds.  First, there was one tree.  One side burnt by radiation, the other side pushed forth with leaves and seeds.

I still don’t know the answer to my questions, but I am amazed, impressed, and inspired by the resilient people of Hiroshima.  They replanted, rebuilt, and rededicated themselves.  Hiroshima was once a military town; Hiroshima is now a town dedicated to peace and nuclear non-proliferation.

I’m currently on my rabbinical whirlwind tour of the area.  I spent Rosh Hashana in Okinawa, and put together a nice holiday for my regular group.  Today, I visited Iwakuni again (and since there are very few Jews at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni), I had a little time to wander up to Hiroshima.  In the next few days, I’m headed to Sasebo (in the Nakasaki Prefecture) and to Guam. 

I imagine that few of my friends and family will have the opportunity to see this town, and as soon as I can get my camera to upload pictures I will attach them to this post.

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