As I sit on my porch in rural Pennsylvania, my imminent return to Japan seems a far off prospect. The smell of freshly mowed grass wafts through the air. A honey bee buzzes lazily above my head. My cat lounges happily at my feet. Time seems to be at a stand still. Although I love spending time at home, a month without a car has left me eager to board the plane to Hiroshima and embark on a new adventure.
Last summer, I found myself in Nagasaki, where I investigated the city’s dynamic identity. Spending a month in a hostel, I heard the tales of many a seasoned traveler, most of whom had stopped in Hiroshima. The phrase “ikari no Hiroshima, inori no Nagasaki”—while Hiroshima rages, Nagasaki prays—was thrown around quite a bit. As a historical center of Christian activity, Nagasaki certainly boasts a thriving peace culture. However, I could not help but question the first part of the phrase, the part involving Hiroshima, which seemed to denote that Hiroshima lacked such a peace culture.
Upon returning to school, this question remained lodged in my cerebral cortex. In fact, through my involvement with the Japan Club of Boston College, my desire to investigate Hiroshima’s peace culture grew and expanded. Participating in the Japan Club’s efforts to raise awareness of the Fukushima nuclear disaster made questions of nuclear energy in Japan all the more urgent to me. Armed with my NewsOnJapan.com IPhone app, I kept up-to-date on discussions of nuclear energy within Japan. Over time, my curiosity about Hiroshima’s peace culture and concern over the tragedy in Fukushima merged into a focused research question, namely: How has the Fukushima nuclear disaster affected Hiroshima’s peace movement through it’s NGOs (non-governmental organizations)?
Organizing this research project has been an arduous task, a task which I began in early January. As I near my date of departure, I am relieved to say that I have somewhat cemented my battle plan. In Hiroshima, I will be interning at the World Friendship Center—an anti-nuclear NGO—while staying with a host family and conducting my research. I will be in Hiroshima for seven weeks.
As for my research, I hope to discover whether Hiroshima’s NGOs are transforming their missions in reaction to the tragedy in Fukushima. If current conditions surrounding nuclear energy in Japan are indeed intertwined with WWII memory, the Fukushima nuclear disaster could pose a challenge to Japanese anti-nuclear NGOs to broaden their definitions of nuclear disarmament. Through my research, I also hope to come to a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of Japan’s anti-nuclear NGOs in promoting peace and protecting human life.
This blog will focus mainly on my experience in Hiroshima, including my tourist-y escapades, research findings, and general encounters. If you happen to be a nascent traveler planning a trip to Japan, check out my past blog posts for tips on packing, getting around, etc…
My next update will come to you live from Hiroshima. Please stay tuned and feel free to leave any comments or questions!