Updated: Jan 11, 2019
If you don't see the sun for a day, do you consider the entire time as night?
… I thought, as my flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo lifted up above the cloud cover.
It was 9 am on Sunday, and the first time I'd seen sunlight since Friday evening, New York time. We’d chased the sun’s wake the entire journey around the earth, but it remained steadily out of reach.
As I lowered my window shade mid-way, I found myself relieved by its return. Of course, I knew the sun had been there the whole time–its warmth, radiance, and promise of a new day hadn’t gone away. But I hadn’t felt its heat or needed to shield my eyes from it for longer than I’d been used to.
When you spend too much time in the night, you can forget yourself a bit. You might feel lost or disoriented; how will you know when to wake up? Conversely, spend too much time in the sun, and you might take it for granted–it’s only the threat of impending darkness that makes you appreciate how happy you are in the light.
In planning our trip to Japan, I wanted to scour the insatiable Tokyo; to navigate the tiny alleyways of Kyoto; and snap my own photos of the Great Torii gate in Miyajima. But Hiroshima needed a different approach.
‘What have we done to you?’ I asked. Remnants of the A-bomb Dome answered.
On August 6, 1945, an American B29 bomber dropped the world’s first atomic bomb, decimating the city, including the former Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall and its once-iconic green dome. What stood before us now was a hollowed-out shell, shouldered by crumbling ruins. Some locals believe the Dome acts as an important reminder, while others want to tear it down and let people heal.
Across the river from the Dome sat the Peace Bell–an audible and visual offering to the world. On the outside, a world map was drawn without any borders. Beside it, a placard inviting visitors to create a *gong* that would resonate and reverberate peace to every corner of the earth.
I understood now that the city of Hiroshima, and the gracious people of Japan, simply want peace–and for every visitor to the Peace Memorial to help perpetuate it. I left Hiroshima feeling reflective. At ease. Hopeful, even. And surprised at its levity and light. If generations of Japanese people can forgive, and encourage ever-lasting peace for the world; if they can ferry their way through the dark night and renew their faith in humanity with every rising sun; then surely we can do the same.
Surely, despite our own private darknesses, together we can believe in the coming of the light.