We caught the train back to Hiroshima and then a tram down to the A-Bomb Dome and Peace Park.
I remember a little yellow book in my primary school library all about Sadako, and a song that we sung in choir.
Sadako was two when the bomb exploded in 1945 and was diagnosed with leukemia at 10 years old. On her sickbed she started folding paper cranes spurred on by the Japanese saying that one who folded 1,000 cranes was granted a wish, by August 1955 she had reached her goal but she continued to fold cranes until her death in October 1955.
SADAKO FROM HIROSHIMA
1. She saw the Thunderbolt in the sky
like a million suns, it prickled her eyes;
she saw the Thunderbolt in the sky –
two years old, it prickled her eyes.
But now she sits making paper cranes,
paper cranes, paper cranes.
Now she sits making paper cranes – Sadako from Hiroshima.
2. She was a runner, swift and strong,
she was tall and slim and her legs were long;
she was a runner, swift and strong –
ten years old and her legs were long.
3. She went to hospital tired and weak,
it was hard to laugh, it was hard to speak.
she went to hospital tired and weak,
eleven years old, it was hard to speak.
And now she sits …
4. She lost the race that she wanted to win –
paper cranes couldn’t cover her with their wings,
cranes couldn’t cover her with their wings –
twelve years old and she wanted to win.
And now she lies with her …
5. This is our cry, this is our prayer,
“May the crane of peace fly everywhere!”
This is our cry, this is our prayer,
“Crane of peace fly everywhere!
A lovely Japanese man carrying his own DSLR offered to take this photo, it worked much better than at Fushimi Inari where a well meaning American lady carrying a little point and shoot offered to take one similar.
She was perplexed by the viewfinder, ahh how cameras have changed.
There were small groups of children running around talking to tourists and practising their (ever so polite) English.
They asked what our names are, where we were from, our favourite part of Japan, and if we had a message for the Japanese people. They had us write our answers on 1 side of a piece of paper and circle our home city on the world map printed on the other.
In exchange they gave us each one of these pink pieces of paper.
Craig has a photo on his camera of me with the Japanese school children. We are the same height.
When I was 15 I wrote Future Sarah-Rose a letter. Two pages of A4 paper, single sided, coloured around the edges with red and purple pencil, in awkward cursive. It was folded ever so tiny, sellotaped in place and a seal (a SEAL) covered the join.
The outside read: Not to be opened until 2008.
I opened it last weekend.
Here’s the thing. I remember having crazy ambitions, I remember being earnest and dream-filled and well, terrified of growing up. And the 25 year old me took a look at her immediate post-London life and felt terrified. Absolutely incapable of reading a 15 year old girl’s hopes and dreams for her future. It took me a long time (and moving house) to bear looking at it.
And it was boring!
I was reasoned and rational at 15. I said that my chosen career was lawyer or actress or author or all three! and that I hoped I was at least working towards one or all of those goals (this was obviously before I realised that the entire reason I wanted to be a Lawyer was because of Matthew McConaughey in A Time to Kill, which is really just being an actress after all) and you know what? in my own little part-time, amateur kind of way, I feel that I am*. Of course at 15 I was not completely enamoured of photography, which just seems just completely foreign to me now.
And! I handily included my measurements. I haven’t managed to unpack a measuring tape as yet (YES I AM STILL UNPACKING) and so I have no idea at all how different I am 11 years later. Quite, I’d imagine.
EDIT: it turns out (I found a measuring tape!) that I have the exact same waist measurement, and I am only 1-4 inches bigger around my bust and hips. Very strange.
What I was most interested in was what I thought, at 15, my lovelife would be like at 25. This was just a year or so before I met Craig (yes! we were 16 when we started dating. Just babies!) and at that time? I didn’t even know he existed.
Strangely? because I always remember being wary of small children, I wrote that I wanted to be a mother at 24. TWENTY FOUR. Madness. I must have been a little drunk when I wrote the letter**. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had continued on with that STUPID STUPID goal. There would have been no London, that’s for sure.
I did write that I hoped I had travelled. I wrote that I wanted to set foot on every continent (being sensible I excluded Antarctica and the Arctic) and I think I’m well on my way to that! Asia, Australia, Europe, America … just missing Africa.
I ended the letter with horribly morbid thoughts about how I hope that I would still be alive to read the letter at 25 (26!), that my parents and sisters would still be alive (they are!), that I would still be in touch with my BFF, Petra (we are!), and that if I didn’t do it regularly, I should make sure they know that I love them (they do!).
So it was not as scary as I thought. I am glad that I have a job which I currently enjoy, artistic pursuits which inspire me, a partner who I could never have dreamed of at 15, and many many stamps in my passport. And I’m glad I didn’t read it last year.
Oh and I’m not going to bother transcribing the letter. It really was that boring. I am a little disappointed in myself.
* No I cannot elaborate. Part is work related WHICH I DO NOT DISCUSS and part is this darling little site.
** I wasn’t. Just an idiot apparently.
In the early early morning (read: 9am) Craig and I crept out of Tim’s place and wandered around Osaka, just a little, to see what we could see and to find breakfast. And to hopefully not get lost.
We sat on the bank of a river (read: concrete stairs next to a river) and ate brioche, taro-flavoured donut, and orange juice. Watching cyclists pass us by & feeling delightfully out of place.
We made it back to Tim’s (success!) and teamed up with some couchsurfers he was hosting (Tin-tin, Agatha, and Mark) and we all went out to Osaka Castle, Osaka-jō.
After the Castle we went to a store called Don Quijote (not a misspelling BTW & yes that bugs me now) which was terrifying.
It’s a discount chain store and was … sensory overload. I couldn’t even bring myself to take a photo. I was too busy.
And yes, they sell sex toys and yes I did look. But no, they weren’t any stranger than in New Zealand. Or London.
I did however try to convince Craig to buy a kigurumi (a full body animal costume). He did not.
We made it back to Shinsaibashi Station and arranged to meet up with Tim & Mio for dinner. We wandered through the Dōtonbori area to look at the lights and the people who are just there to see and be seen.
Glico is the company who make Pocky!
Takoyaki (たこ焼き) is a the signature dish of Osaka. It’s a dumpling made of batter, diced or whole baby octopus, tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion, topped with okonomiyaki sauce, ponzu, mayonnaise, and katsuobushi (cuttlefish shavings).
I like squid, but octopus? it turns out, not so much. I can still remember the feeling of the little purple sucker on my tongue. Creepy.
My writing is the (snarky) Black Pen*
These are the things you find when you accidentally** delete ALL your photos off your MacBook then promptly panic and download them ALL*** from Flickr and then have to use the iPhoto autosplit magic to organise them in to sets because, lord knows, they cannot just sit in the programme with no semblance of order****.
A caveat: I was very annoyed. The blue pen writing belongs to a co-worker I was less than fond of, and she was making a big fat deal about her personalisation of a shared desk. Sigh.
She was lucky I didn’t start on the X of thanks.
* I only ever use black pen. It’s a thing.
** Yes I am an idiot.
** Around Six THOUSAND photos.
*** Ahh my slight ocd rears it’s delightful little head.
Uss Missouri, Hawaii
I thought this lady was horrible & rude because you were only allowed 9 letters for a first name so I put down “SarahRose” and she got all snippity about the double capital letters, even after I explained that USUALLY, when ALLOWED, I put a hyphen between the two parts of my first name. JEEZ.
So I took this photo intending to be all horrid only to find, once completed, that she had BROKEN THE 9 LETTER RULE for me and thus, again, I was both ashamed and Sarah-Rose.
Uss Missouri, Hawaii