Tuesday, March 12, 2013

April 30, 1954 The Rainy Day in Kobe, The Shoe Problem, The Visitors, Hiroshima and The Fish Crisis

Dear Mother & Daddy,

"Easter Sunday was no day for new bonnets.  Of course, I didn't have one and haven't worn a hat since we came.  The women in this area don't wear hats to much of anything and I am glad.  In spite of the rain we put on our raincoats and went to Kobe for the day.  It literally poured on us but we ate lunch there and got some shopping done.  We were looking for Bob some shoes but simply could not find any.  We later found some in Osaka but most of the leather is so stiff it is just like a board.  I have often wondered why people clumped along when they wore western shoes and now I know--the soles just don't bend.  My walking shoes are about to fall apart for the rain and the rocks are very rough on them.  I found several pairs that were nice but always too short.  A 6 is the biggest they make for the stores because Japanese feet are small.  I finally found a man in a tiny shop that would make me some.  They are very nice and I'm very pleased.

We had some Fulbright friends here for a while.  They have a little girl smaller than Ann and twins born in Jan. so they brought two maids.  It was like an invasion.  The day they left we packed for our trip to Hiroshima.  There was a rail strike the morning we were to go so one of our neighbors took us to the station.  We visited a Fulbright family who have two girls--nine and eleven.  A student girl also lives with them so she can learn English.  They had a houseful of army people visiting them when we got there but we had an early supper and the other people had to get back to the post.  We all went to the station with them and shopped along the way.  They hadn't been there before although the camp isn't far away.

The next day was rainy and cloudy but we took a ferry to another real small island which is famous for its scenery called Miyajima--miya is shrine and jima is island.  It is really a very beautiful place.

We ate lunch in a little tea house way up the mountain and had Japanese food.  We kept hoping the sun would shine so we waited until the last day to go to the bomb site.

B took pictures anyway in hopes they will show something.  The one building left standing after the bombing is really just a hull.  The steel staircase is twisted, shadows are actually burned into roof tiles, there is rubble all around.  The place is fenced off but we could go inside and walk around.  There was a tiny vegetable plot just inside the fence.  Three or four little shacks were near where the people sold post cards and souvenirs like melted bottles, or objects fused together by the heat of the explosion.  One of the shops was owned by Victim No. 1.  We did not see him but our friends told us that he would strip to the waist to show people his scars from burns and grafting.  A picture gallery was full of oil paintings and sketches of the bombing and the people and animals who were caught in it.  The pictures were done by people who saw it and it is horribly gruesome.  One building which stood a long way from the bombing center had big splotches of plaster burned off from the rays.  The University of Hiroshima is a barren looking place compared with ours here.  It is a big place but lumber and rubble are still piled around.  The grade school building has big chunks of concrete out here and there.  Hiroshima is poor, so different from Kobe.   Hiroshima still shows scars of war.  The streets are unpaved and muddy and there are many open lots which once were full of houses.  You asked if we could see any difference in people since the Bikini incident.  There is no difference in the way we are treated.  People are still just as warm and friendly to us as before.  In Hiroshima people were pleasant and always nice.  There has been lots in the papers about the bomb tests for the Japanese people have really suffered once more.

There have been so many conflicting stories about the few fishermen involved at first that I don't know about them but since then so many fishing boats and so many boatloads of fish have had to be destroyed and that is the terrible part.  Fishing is the only means of livelihood for many of these people.  Take their boats and their fish and they have nothing--no food nor way of getting it.  It probably took them years to buy their boat in the beginning.  It is not finished yet.  Every day more fish and more boats are being destroyed.  People simply quit eating tuna after the first test so lots of it spoiled in the markets.  It is a serious thing.

I'm about through with my sewing.  Teruko-san finished my black silk suit while we were in Hiroshima but I haven't tried it on yet.  I have the handwork to do on a pongee and a brown linen and they'll be finished.  Ann needs two or three more school dresses.  Bob insists on jeans so I can't sew for him.

I owe so many letters I must stop sewing and write letters.  We are going to stay home for a while so maybe I'll catch up."

                       Love to all of you,


NOTE:  For information about the Bikini incident:  http://www.ctbto.org/specials/infamous-anniversaries/1-march-1954-castle-bravo/

This week marks the second anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami (March 11) and it seems fitting to reflect on the tragedy with hopes for further recovery for the people and land so devastated by this event.


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