July 16, 1945.

The site was called “Trinity”

At 5:29:45 am Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb exploded one hundred feet over a portion of the southern New Mexico desert known as the Jornada del Muerto – the Journey of the Dead Man. On seeing the fireball and mushroom cloud, J. Robert Oppenheimer recalled a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita: “I am become death the destroyer of worlds.” Trinity Test Director, Harvard Physicist Kenneth Bainbridge, had a less ethereal reaction, saying, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”

http://www.lanl.gov/history/atomicbomb/trinity.shtml

.

Three weeks later, at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the bomb called “Little Boy”, the first of two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities within a 72 hours, detonated about 2,000 feet above Hiroshima. . .

Middle School Student at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum.  May 16.1945.

Middle School Student at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum. May 16, 2008.

.

In May of 2008 I and Dr. John van Sant (Professor of Japanese History) lead a group 9 UAB students to Japan for a 10-day culture and history trip.  Besides Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Himeji, we visited Hiroshima for a couple of days.  I believe all of the students were moved by their time in Hiroshima.  It was only my second visit.  I was glad to see that the Museum had been updated dramatically since I first went there in the spring of 1991:  it included extensive information about Japan’s road to war and imperial dreams, which were all but missing in the earlier incarnation of the Museum that I had seen.  Nevertheless, to see all the children there and to know . . .

As any American who’s visited Hiroshima will tell you, there is simply no city with kinder, more gentle-souled people than Hiroshima.  The warmth (or even nonchalance) with which they treat Americans is beyond humbling.

.

"Gembaku Dohmu" (Atomic Bomb Dome).  Almost directly beneath the atomic bomb's blast epicenter. It's been preserved.  May 16, 2008.

"Gembaku Dohmu" (Atomic Bomb Dome). Almost directly beneath the atomic bomb's blast epicenter. It's been preserved. May 16, 2008.

.

Contemporary Hiroshima Street Scene.  Gembaku Dohmu just to the right.  Baseball stadium just out of frame to the left (for the Hiroshima Carp). May 16, 2008.

Contemporary Hiroshima Street Scene. Gembaku Dohmu just to the right. Baseball stadium just out of frame to the left (for the Hiroshima Carp). May 16, 2008.

.

.

Teacher and students on field trip.  Hiroshima Peace Park. Where they're sitting is within the area of devastation visible in the top photograph.  May 16, 2008.

Teacher and students on field trip. Hiroshima Peace Park. Where they're sitting is within the area of devastation visible in the top photograph. May 16, 2008.

    • John Van Sant
    • April 4th, 2010

    Excellent pictures, Richard!

      • letsjapan
      • April 4th, 2010

      John,

      Thank you so much. Of course you and the wonderful UAB group were there.
      I hope these help “take you back there.” Please feel free to browse throughout
      the galleries, posts and stories. I try to update once or twice a week. I was in
      Japan in November and am due to head back at the end of May. Let’s be in touch.
      Thank you again for visiting and for your kind comment.

      R

    • Jeff Leon (Wom Bat @ DK)
    • August 5th, 2010

    Great post and photos, Richard, great blog too! In addition to Robert Oppenheimer’s quoting from the Bhagavad-Gita, I heard this anecdote about him:

    After the attacks on Japan and their terrible civilian death tolls, Oppemheimer had suffered from pangs of guilt. In the Oval Office, he told President Truman, “Mr. President, I feel I have blood on my hands.” Truman offered his pocket handkerchief to Oppenheimer, saying simply, “Here. Would you like to wipe them?”

    Don’t know if it’s true or not. But it seems to sum up how many Manhattan Project participants might have felt.

    Good running into you as always, Richard. Keep on posting!

    • letsjapan
    • August 5th, 2010

    Thank you so very much, Jeff. You’re kind comments always mean a lot to me.

    Much appreciation,

    R.

  1. August 5th, 2009
  2. August 5th, 2010

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: