February 18, 2011

We went to Hiroshima last weekend and I just thought I’d post some photos and write down some thoughts. I’ll split the trip into two posts, one about the Peace Memorial and one about Miyajima.

So, the Peace Memorial Park. Here are some pictures:

Of course you know you’re probably going to feel sad when you go there. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I’ve been to a lot of war museums and sites of battles and things and I think in the West it’s the war cemeteries that always seem to upset me the most. You know, all those lines of identical pale grey concrete stones. All those ages, so many eighteen year olds and nineteen year olds.

Anyway, when you get off the streetcar at the A-bomb Dome stop you turn around and the dome is right there next to the road. Just right there in your face. It is eerie. Lots of people around taking photos. I really felt it would be weird to do the whole posing and doing peace signs thing (although lots of people were…odd, right?) so I just took lots of pictures of the building.

We walked over to the hypocentre, directly beneath where the bomb actually went off. It’s just this tiny plaque on the side of the road surrounded by garages. Very weird. Looked up, saw an apartment block, streetlights and wires. Impossible to imagine an explosion in this sky.

The layout of the park is beautiful. As you stand between the cenotaph and the museum and look through the arch you see the flame and the dome, all perfectly aligned. The museum itself is very calm and sort of unsensational. There are graphic images but  not many, it really doesn’t need to show much in order to shock. The model of Hiroshima before and after pretty much speaks for itself:  Model one shows a busy town full of buildings , model two: a wasteland with a few scattered concrete shells.

It’s upstairs that it gets very upsetting. This is where they exhibit objects damaged by the bomb. There are girders and wall sections and so on and then there are items of clothing and lunchboxes and rucksacks and hats. Most of the items belonged to children who were out working, demolishing buildings for firelanes. There were no air raid warnings that morning so  there were far more children outside than there would normally have been. The repetitiveness of the stories was just so sad. Despite horrific burns, so many of them somehow made it home after the blast only to die hours or days afterwards. So many parents rushed to the site hoping to find their children but instead finding their children’s bodies, or bits of clothing or nothing at all. The museum doesn’t hold back from explaining the gruesome physical symptoms people suffered from and there are graphic pictures of burns and very detailed descriptions of what the explosion did to people’s bodies at the moment of the blast and in the aftermath.

For some reason though, the story that really got me was of a woman whose husband was killed in the blast. She rushed to his office and found nothing but collapsed filing cabinets and some bones, next to his lunchbox and pipe.

After the museum we went to the National Peace Memorial Hall and sat down there for a while. There was no one else around and it was very peaceful. Outside there was a slideshow of victims faces and a scrolling list of their names. One girl, wearing a junior high school uniform, grabbed my attention. She looked so cool, she looked like she should be a singer in a sixties girl band, not dead in an atomic bomb explosion.

There are lots of resources at the memorial hall, a library, databases where you can access information about victims and their lives and about what happened that day. There’s such a big focus, not only on nuclear disarmament but also on eliminating war. I know it may seem futile but there is still something in that quiet persistence, in the idea that if we just keep calmly repeating how tragic this was and how tragic all war is then maybe someday, somehow peace will be a reality.

In this case,  the Nintendo 3DS preview event at Makuhari Messe last month. Yes, I know I’m late and that no one cares what someone who knows nothing about consoles thinks about the 3DS but…I was there! I took pictures! I’m going to write about it anyway!
When we showed up I basically thought it would be like TGS (noisy, colourful, a bit mad) but it wasn’t like TGS at all! Apart from the queues. It was all very white and grey and corporate looking, a bit like being inside a giant Apple store or something. Queues were very long and unlike TGS there wasn’t much going on to distract people. Oh hang on, I meant to say we were lucky enough to be entertained by Arashi’s advert for the 3DS played on a loop, forever and ever and ever!! I saw it so many times it got addictive. It turned into some kind of crazy mantra, I couldn’t stop watching it! Help me! Next thing I know I’ll start listening to Arashi’s music!! No actually, that’s never going to happen. Wow, this recollection is pretty intense!
Some pictures:
OK, the 3DS itself. Bear in mind that I don’t know what I’m talking about and I suck at most games.
It’s pretty. I like the Aqua Blue version best.
Games I Played:
Zelda: Looked nice but I struggled to play it so…it was alright I guess.
Dead or Alive: Looked average, not especially impressive BUT I won all 12 fights so it was great. Or I am great. Or both.
Kid Icarus: DIFFICULT. Pretty though.
Super Street Fighter IV 3D: Awesome. It looked poppy and jazzy and luminous, 3D was very effective and I can play it, hooray!
Nintendogs and Cats: Sucked. But I really don’t like Ninetendogs. They’re not cute.
3D camera: Pretty fun. Made me oddly sad to see people getting the attendants to take their photos because they were by themselves.
AR Games: Cool, but I can’t imagine it would hold my attention for very long. The feature where you can play around with your Mii and take photos with it and stuff looked quite fun but there were no opportunities to make your own Mii. Unless you happened to be one of the comedians on stage. I tried not to watch them but as I said, there were few distractions…
I should have brought some queue entertainment. A nice book or something. About 99.9% of all the children there had a DS. I suppose there would have been a lot more tantrums if they hadn’t.
The stands weren’t really giving away any merchandise, except the Capcom people who were giving out holographic postcards. So they win. Best game (Street Fighter) and a free postcard.
The second day was similar except for two special things!
One: I watched the Puzzle Bobble trailer demo thing about five or six times because I didn’t care about any of the others and because it was just so cute…I want Puzzle Bobble things.
Two: I made like a paparazzi and spotted Toshihiro Nagoshi. I mean, he isn’t exactly hard to spot but I was rather pleased with myself. Except I didn’t know what to do with this information. I informed Danny that I’d seen him and then I put my serious journalist hat on aaaaaand…….stood about five metres away from him trying to pretend that I wasn’t looking. Paparazzi skills. My camera, lovely though it is, doesn’t have an amazing zoom lens, so I took lots of photos of the back of his head, from a distance.Occasionally the people who were talking to him looked at me. Terribly exciting I know.
Stayed almost all day both days and left, as we entered, through a pair of walls plastered with giant posters of Arashi. Now every time I think of the 3DS I will also think of Kazunari Ninomiya, Sho Sakurai, Jun Matsumoto, Satoshi Ono and Masaki Aiba. Way to go advertising.
Maybe when I get to play around with a 3DS for real, I will post a picture of the amazing Mii I am going to make. Exciting times!

Miju Miju

February 7, 2011

I’m slowly building up quite a collection of Mijumaru stuff! (I’m not calling him Oshawott). I’ll take a picture of it all together soon :)

addicted addicted

February 6, 2011

I’ve been terribly addicted to this song today. Rediscovered it on an old birthday mix CD from my lovely brother :)

It really makes me want to go to a gig. No, scratch that, I wanna be a rockstar. I’m going to buy a guitar actually! Acoustic or electric?

Oops, sorry!

February 5, 2011

Yes, I’ve been really slow about updating! Again, photo storage problems! It’s my fault for having a teeny netbook. It’s so CUTE though, I love it, I’m not sorry. Oh wait, I am! For not updating! Sooooorry!! I’ll try harder!