Photos from Hiroshima: Kyrie eleison

In 2006, Sherilyn and I visited Hiroshima. It’s hard to express what it’s like to visit the site of such unimaginable destruction. If you look one direction, you see a vibrant city, not much different from other cities in Japan. Look the other destruction and you see the ruins of the first wartime use of an atomic bomb. There’s a museum which chronicles life in Hiroshima before and after the bomb. One particularly heart-wrenching display has a wall (yes, a wall!) of letters from the city’s leaders to various world governments. In vain, they’ve written at the time of each nuclear test since 1945, asking that the bomb never be used again, for any purpose. The number of letters — and the lack of responses — is poignant. If you ever have a chance to visit Hiroshima, you should go. It’s a sobering and inspiring shrine to peace.

Here are some photos from that trip:

That’s the sole surviving building from the bomb blast. Most of the rest of the city center was leveled. The few buildings that remained standing were cleared to make way for new construction. This one was left as a memorial. It anchors one end of a peace park.

Cranes are everywhere. There are some permanent displays in a couple of locations. In one spot, you can see thousands upon thousands of cranes sent to Hiroshima by people around the world. The day I visited, there are vast piles of cranes sent by school children from several continents. Each set of cranes had a tag saying who had made the cranes. While I am saddened by the violence in our world, it is also heartening to see such tangible evidence of prayers and good wishes for peace.

This is a peace bell. Anyone can ring it. There was something profoundly hopeful and achingly sad about this scene: two parents brought their tiny child to ring the bell, as a prayer for peace. Will this child grow up in a world that is more peaceful than our time? That is up to us, dear reader.

From what I can see we Christians need to look into the face of evil that is manifest in what happened at Hiroshima, and then we need to repent. We need to repent of our violence and turn toward God’s hope of a peaceable kingdom. Kyrie eleison.

There are more photos from that trip to Japan on flickr. While you’re looking for photos, go visit the Big Picture blog, which has a collection of photos of Hiroshima before and after the bomb.

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