Remember Hiroshima. We want Peace.

Placing a paper crane
The Wi-Fi has been broken at World Friendship Center. Sorry for the late post.

The day I spent at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was indeed a meaningful day in my life. The weather was awful, with pouring rain and unbearable coldness.  On Wednesday at 9:30 in the morning, I entered one of the meeting rooms in the Peace Park Memorial to meet with Mrs. Kasaoka, 78 years old, a hibakusha survived the Atomic Bombing in Hiroshima, 1945.

There were about ten guests in the meeting room hearing Mrs.Kasaoka’s story, besides me, two were from Canada, and the rest were all Japanese. The story was being told with a translator standing aside translating after one or two sentences were finished telling by Mrs.Kasaoka in Japanese. Kasaoka’s story was extremely powerful. At some point I was almost in tears. When the bombing occurred, Kasaoka was only thirteen years old. She lost both of her parents on Aug 6th, 1945, leaving an irremovable mark in her memory of the war.

I am sure that stories alike Mrs.Kasaoka’s were millions out there, but what I got the most out of her story was the calmness on her face and her determination to promote peace in the world, not hatred or any negative feelings. When talking about WWII, Chinese people automatically express their hatred toward Japan. Note, it’s Japan, including both the government and the people, not only the army. But Chinese people never think that Japanese people, the ordinary civilians did nothing wrong, and they are also victims of the war. Before my visit to Peace Memorial Park, I was not sure about what kind of feelings that Japanese people have toward America, who dropped the atomic bombs. I was amazed by the theme of the park — peace, instead of blame or hatred.

Some quotes from Mrs.Kasaoka:

“I hated America, but gradually I grew out of those feelings. Now I hate the A-Bomb itself. ”

“The way to live is with love.”

“We always have fears (radiation). We should not have the 3rd A-Bomb. I’d like to convey that things like A-Bombing should not, and must not be repeated.”

Peace Memorial in Rain

In war we are all victims. During my stay at Hiroshima, I had two personal interviews, in order to gain a board perspective of the Pacific War. One interview I had was with Barb Siney, from Ohio, the co-director of the World Friendship Center. She gave me a general perspective of American’s role in the Pacific War. The other interview I had was with another guest at WFC, who is from Thailand and is now a student at Tokyo Institute of Technology. She told me Thai people’s views and positions in WWII while under Japan’s occupation. I gained lot information through these interviews. When I finish organizing my notes, I will be able to write up a great research paper on this topic.

I don’t know how much of my goal — promoting peace–has been achieved. However, I think simply my presence in Hiroshima as a Chinese teenager already meant a lot. I appreciate this opportunity that enables me to look at a sensitive topic from a different angle. Although I only had a full day at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, what I saw and heard already makes my Senior Project extremely meaningful.

Now I am back in Tokyo and will return Beijing in three days.

More to come,


Arriving Hiroshima!


Two nights ago, finally, I landed at Narita Airport in Tokyo, kicking off my ten-day-trip in Japan. I stayed at my aunt’s house in Yotsukaido, Chiba, located just outside of Tokyo for the past two days. I was expecting my stay in Japan a completely history-orientated trip, but now it seems more like a cultural immersion for me. Simply to feel the smell of the air, the cleanness of the streets, and the emotions expressed on people’s faces is already an unforgettable experience.

It is now almost 10 p.m. I am getting ready for bed.

Today I took the JR Express (bullet train) from Tokyo to Hiroshima. It took about four hours, a little shorter than that from Philadelphia to Boston. I am staying at World Friendship Center, a family style hotel run by an American couple, Ron and Barb, who are volunteers here in Hiroshima to promote peace. There are five guest rooms total in this Japanese style house. Besides me there is another tourist from Thailand staying in this house. I didn’t get to meet him/her today. Hopefully I can have a conversation with him/her before I leave. WFC arranged for me an atomic bombing survivor story telling and a Hiroshima Peace Park tour on Wednesday, the day after tomorrow. I am looking forward to hear people talking about their experiences in WWII. 

Tomorrow I will be visiting Miyajima, one of Japan’s 3 most beautiful spots. It is basically a divine shrine located in water. I am looking forward to many beautiful pictures.

So far the biggest challenge I have faced is language issue. At train station, in the shops, I was unable to communicate at all. My Asian face makes it even more difficult because everybody was assuming that I am Japanese and I can speak Japanese. I found that the majority population in Japan is not fluent in English. Today when I arrived at WFC and was greeted by the language of English, I was almost in tears. English! I love u! At the same time, I swear I will learn Japanese in college and hopefully could take a year aboard in Tokyo.

 Here are some pictures that I took:

One Week Left!


Hello everyone! My name is Effie Zhang and  I am a member of Westtown School Class of 2010!

I cannot believe this is our last week of school before we go on to our senior project. Although I am very excited about my senior project, I have to wait until March 3rd to actually start my trip in Hiroshima, Japan. As most of you know, this past Sunday was the Lunar New Year. Lunar New Year is a huge deal in China and celebration with families goes on for at least two weeks. Luckily this year’s New Year Eve was in mid-Feburary, which means if I take off this Friday I can still be home in time for the second half of the New Year celebration. Finally I decided to enjoy my spring break first and do my senior project later.

Speaking of my own-designed senior project, I cannot find exact words to describe my excitement. I am going to spend four days in Hiroshima, then six days in Tokyo, and finally another three days in my homecity Beijing. I am starting my trip in Hirosima. I will be staying in a Quaker-related familystyle hotel/center called the World Friendship Center. I already booked my room for three nights there. It is now run by an American couple. In Hiroshima I will visit the Peace Park and a junior high school (hopefully). I want to conduct some interviews with local people, attempting to gain a true version of what happend and what are remembered about the Atomic Bombings. In Tokyo, with some of my Japanese friends’ help, I will be visiting several history musems as well as the Tokyo Meeting. I don’t know how much of my plan will actually turn out smoothly, but I am defintely looking forward to my trip to Japan. When I return from Japan, in Beijing I will visit a WWII history museum, and spend the rest of my spring break writing  my research paper on different versions of WWII.

Thanks to T.Susan Rhodewalt, my advisor and my “Hiroshima to 9/11” teacher, who inspired me to come up with this great idea and has helped me planning my trip and make connections in Japan for me. Her husband Scott Rhodewalt has been to Hiroshima and the World Friendship Center for several times. They both have been my resources ans supports duing the past three months when I was planning my senior project. T.Susan has always been telling us in class that history has to be learned from different perspectives. Japanese see themselves victims in WWII because of the Atomic Bombings. Chinese people also see themselves as victims in WWII. Chinese hate Japanese because of their denial of Nanjing Massacre (300,000 killed in 2 weeks), and they don’t show sympathy to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivers at all. Through my trip, I want to fully understand what people really think about WWII history and how much they know about the other side of the story. If possible, I would also like to be a peace promoter, bringing peace to both sides and helping them understand each other. No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki. No more Nanjing 1937.

My senior project is going to be challenging since I don’t speak Japanese at all. (Although I just started leaning it!) Yet I feel confident and excited about my trip. I will post my blog entries as often as possible and I hope you will enjoy reading them!

See you in Hiroshima!