USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences > Blog

May 27, 2012

Student Reflections – May 27

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:00 am

By Kim Vu

After about a week in Tokyo, we woke up this morning to take all of our luggage and head to the next leg of our journey! It was about a 5 hour trip total going on trains with one transfer to get to Hiroshima, but here we are!  The Shinkansen bullet train is extremely fast and I was awake for most of the ride to witness the large countryside that we traveled through to get to Hiroshima.  There were rice fields along the way and the houses were more spread out with one and two story buildings instead of just many tall buildings.  We all seemed to find that it is a nice break from the fast-paced urban city of Tokyo.

After taking a lot of subways in Tokyo, we used a streetcar here in Hiroshima to get to our next stop.  The streetcar runs around the whole city and since I have not visited a city like San Francisco even back in California, this was my first time in one!  It seemed to be a great alternative to not having a subway here.  We visited the Hiroshima Castle, which had 5 floors of exhibits and information about its history.

After having met with the USC Alumni Association of Tokyo yesterday, we met with the USC Alumni Association of Hiroshima tonight.  We were warmly welcomed by Hayashi-san, who goes by Sammy.  He along with about 10 other Japanese alum had a reception for us as we connected and talked about things such as their experiences studying abroad in the US and their thoughts on our different research topics.  It was an invaluable experience and great to know that our alumni association welcomes us with such open arms when we are so far from home!  We hope to keep in touch with those we met today.

By Guadalupe Cardona

The adventure we had today was unexpected. I was confused preparing for visiting the Peace Memorial Museum because the alumni from the reception said not to feel guilty and the advisors said it was the best experience of the trip. I went into this tour with a blank slate, not knowing what to think, expect, or even feel. I went through the museum listening to the different experiences of the Atomic bomb victims and facts about the dropping of a nuclear weapon on Hiroshima that shocked me. What was there to actually feel? I felt guilt as a human being even if I’m not portrayed as an American in the U.S.  but am an American in Japan. The fact that the museum can take something so tragic to create something so positive such as a goal to convince the world that the creation of weapons is unnecessary is impressive. I was also made aware of how Japanese culture has upheld community.

I have come to admire the balance between nature and industry in this country besides all else. It shows that the Japanese know how to embark for a future journey while holding on to their history and enduring it. Visiting Miyajima Island after the museum today was awesome; it was a good balance from sadness to peacefulness. The deer, shrine, and the locals that provided a tour were fantastic. This is what I came to Japan for: to acknowledge and experience what the true Japanese lifestyle is from religion to social gatherings. Most of all the fact of being able to overcome all negativity, even if resentment lies underneath, to look forward to peace and progress will be an aspect of Japanese culture I will never forget.

By David Cortes

Coming to Hiroshima was something that has changed my life on many levels. I have seen the aftermath of what human beings are capable of when nuclear weapons are involved in a plan to wipe out an entire city. The killing of innocent people is never justifiable regardless of the circumstance because there are alternatives to violence. Furthermore, no one deserves to be killed and experience the effects of an atomic bomb. I personally feel that it is detrimental to society on many levels because it leaves an everlasting impression. The most striking thing at the museum was seeing a tricycle that was recovered after the bombing, which was used by a three-year-old child that was riding it. It was something that made a big impact because I thought about how the innocent children were killed.

Hiroshima was used as a testing ground to drop the atomic bomb, which resulted in the death of many people. Wiping out a city in its entirety is what occurred at Hiroshima after the bombing. Moreover, it is a serious issue that must be addressed in order to promote peace, which is something that the people of Hiroshima have been able to promote even though they were the victims of a horrific event. I was able to conclude that it is in our hands as a global society to work together in order minimize the amount of violence that occurs as opposed to promoting violence.

After visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Museum, we went on board a boat for lunch, which was a great experience because it was sponsored by Mr. Hayashi who heads the USC Alumni Club of Hiroshima. His generosity allowed us to go on a lunch cruise; it was the first time I ever experienced anything like it. The final destination of the boat ride was Miyajima Island, which was a great sightseeing experience for us. Mr. Hayashi even coordinated an amazing group of tour guides that gave us a great insight into the history of the island. His generosity was incredible and made today a very important day for all of us. It was a peaceful place were we were able to analyze our experience from the Peace Memorial Museum.

By Rubi Garcia

How can I begin to describe what I just witnessed at the Peace Museum? A variety of mixed feelings are overwhelming me at this moment. I feel anger towards the U.S. and a huge part of myself feels guilty for being an American. In the beginning of the tour, I remember being told not to feel guilty about what happened to the Japanese when the U.S. dropped the bomb on them, but I couldn’t help it. I feel that as an American, I am responsible for the pain and suffering we caused these people. This is something that can never be forgotten or erased and nothing can be done to make up for it.

As an American, I’ve learned the “American” perspective of so many things. I hadn’t realized how biased I’ve been in terms of global affairs. I never really took an interest in learning how the different countries interacted with one another and how their relationships affect the way each of the countries view each other. Going to the museum today made me realize how much international relations is of interest me. I was able to gain a completely different experience from the Japanese through the Peace Museum.

Most Americans are unaware of the devastating affects of the atomic bombs. In high school, I never really got the chance to see the graphic images of the Japanese affected by the bomb like I did in the museum. Not much attention is paid to the aftermath of the war including the diseases that people developed as a result. I also learned how the United States did not warn Japan of the bombing. From what I read from the one of the preserved artifacts in the museum, the U.S. was supposed to let Japan know that they were going to declare war on them.  The U.S., however, failed to do so.

The visit to the museum made me reflect on what it means to be an American in Hiroshima and I was unsure how to react to this. I feel that when the Japanese look at me, they see me as an American and completely disregard my Hispanic ethnicity.

Although the war ended more than 50 years ago, Japanese people are still dying from the effects of the bomb. This makes me really sad. What I found extremely interesting was how fast the Japanese were able to recover from this devastating attack. This was in large part due to the unity of the Japanese after the bombing: instead of expressing signs of hatred and vengeance towards the U.S., they pulled themselves together and unified. Because of this, I have concluded that I will be changing my research topic and will be investigating the following: how has the relationship between the United States and Japan after World War II affected their foreign policy? How has this foreign policy affected the way Japanese and Americans perceive each other?

Our guides at Miyajima Island were fantastic!

Mr. Hayashi arranged for an academic to give us a proper tour

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