October 17, 2013- Nagasaki, Japan

Today we were scheduled to be in Okinawa, but due to rough seas we would have encountered getting there, the Captain made a decision to cancel that port, substituting Nagasaki instead, which is further to the north and west of Okinawa, on the western edge of Japan. I can imagine all of the ramifications of a decision like this. In addition to dock availability, there are considerations of buses, tours, fueling, etc. The staff was busy canceling arrangements in Okinawa and scheduling tours and such in Nagasaki, printing out the information, and booking new excursions. The port guide had to pull her “Nagasaki” file and rewrite her presentation on the next port.

We sailed through Japan’s inland sea, kind of like the inside passage in Alaska. It is a busy route which passes between several of Japan’s main islands, ranging from several miles in width, to several hundred yards, and passing under several large bridges. Since we were still in Japanese waters, the internet and phones were still shut off, leaving us out of electronic connection with the world, as we have been since we docked in Kobe a few days ago.

Where we had planned to visit more WWII battle sites on Okinawa, instead we visited the site of one of the events which ended the war – the dropping of the second atomic bomb, on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Nagasaki was the second city bombed, following Hiroshima, and was an alternate target for the B-29 “Bockscar”, when the primary target was covered in clouds. It was selected as target because of its importance in ship building and shipping. Entering the harbor, which extends for miles, it is obvious to see that it is a natural location for ship building, and there were many shipyards along the coast line.

The bomb exploded 500 meters directly above this monument at ground zero.

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I normally don’t post pictures of text, since I am not sure it can be read, but I am going to take a chance with this one.

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There were many, many groups of Japanese students, in their school uniforms, touring the Peace Park, at ground zero and the adjoining Atomic Bomb Museum, all very friendly with not a sign of negative emotion concerning the Americans as they toured alongside them – quite the opposite they were enthusiastically cordial and open.

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A 3-D portrayal of Nagasaki as the bomb exploded.

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While there was an overwhelming amount of information concerning the dropping of the bomb, which ended the war, there was almost nothing of the events in December 1941 which started it, and in fact none of the Japanese kids had ever heard of Pearl Harbor. To be expected, I suppose, but to deny history is to risk repeating it.

After lunch, we moved away from the bomb, both physically and mentally and explored Nagasaki the city, and its downtown area – far from ground zero.

We walked into town from the pier and the first area we visited was the “foreign” area, where the early European traders built their homes. The early Portuguese and Dutch traders built these homes.

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We boarded a streetcar, rode it to the end of the line, watched the conductor change ends of the car, and got off near a shopping area.

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After walking through the shopping arcade for a while, we strolled through Chinatown, one of only three in Japan – the other two being in Kobe and Tokyo, heading back to the ship and sailing for China.

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