In August 2005 I visited a lifelong friend in the old coastal town of Kamakura in Japan. We had not seen each other in years and it was good to finally meet up in a different country. He was by now married with children and my short stay was pleasant for we had time to explore the temples and shrines in the area and also chat about times past. He teaches English from home. After a several days on the east coast of Japan I decided to investigate the natural beauty of Honshu and so went by train to Kyoto to see the sublimity of temples and gardens. After this I travelled to Osaka, Hiroshima in the south and Morioka in the north where I discovered that a volcano is a short distance away and so made time to climb it and survey the surrounding area. I also did similar near Kobe, not far from Osaka, and met a Japanese woman walking in the same direction. We talked for some while until I found a shrine at the top of a hill used as a film location and continued to explore some more ancient buildings. But of all the places I went none had more of an impact than Hiroshima. I stayed in some basic accommodation on the outskirts of the city and decided that in the morning I would walk to the centre on foot rather than take any form of public transport. I wanted to get a feel for the place considering its history although at the time I was not thinking of what happened on the 6th August 1945. It was a long walk but so was the walk I had done across Spain a year beforehand. I passed people and shops and negotiated traffic when crossing unfamiliar roads but the experience was typically urban and familiar. Further on and about a mile from the centre I developed an intense feeling of heat on the inside part of the left side of my chest. It was a strange sensation. Now in the centre of Hiroshima I stood gazing at an incongruous building, half destroyed, yet almost complete in its structure. It was the Hiroshima Peace Memorial – Genbaku Dome. The pain in my heart vanished but an awareness of what had happened had grown.
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