I arrived in Hiroshima two days ago and came face to face with my country’s dark past after I got on the streetcar that would take me to the ryokan when it passed the A-Bomb Dome. There it stood, where two rivers meet and become one. The streetcar rolled by the Dome and I stared hard at it.
Minutes later I got off at Dobashi and had to find the ryokan. I found it on the map and it didn’t look like a long walk. But as luck would have it, I met an Irish fellow was staying at the same place and we found it together. A little while later, having dropped our things off in our rooms, we went walking back to the site of the Dome and the Peace Memorial. They were easy to find and the surrounding park is one of the best I’ve seen.
Rather than describe the Peace Memorial, I’ll relate a few thoughts I had upon being there:
Thoughts of dozens of anti-war punk rock songs, like the UK Subhumans’ “When the Bomb Drops” and the Canadian Subhumans’ “Hiroshima.” Thoughts of Discharge’s graphic cover art from Why? and Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. All of their pounding songs about war, death, and destruction. All of that fetishistic A-bomb/warfare stuff from the late ’70s and ’80s. Stuff I’d been listening to and enjoying since age 14…
….And now…having stood in this city, having touched glass bottles deformed by the blast, having seen the flesh charred into the concrete and the bricks, I can’t hear a lot of that music the same way again. It’s not just sounds coming from the headphones anymore: It’s been made concrete with the memories of being here in Hiroshima.
Did any of those musicians visit Hiroshima? If they did, how’d they feel when they got here?
The Dome’s under renovation, so that’s why the scaffolding is there.
*The objects from the blast that are on display are okay to touch.
**And though a blues-rock album, The Groundhogs’ Thank Christ For The Bomb and its title track came to mind, for obvious reasons.
If you want to hear Discharge, feel free to look up their stuff on Youtube. The cover art’s not something I want to put up here today.