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(Note to readers:  The reality I witnessed when visiting Hiroshima today was harsh.  My reflections are harsh as well. It is not my intention to offend, rather to awaken.)

There’s no way to put a soft gel on the results of dropping a nuclear bomb on a crowded civilian population. My mind instantly rejected any idea of photographing any part of the A-bomb park in an effort to share our visit to Hiroshima today. I was on sacred ground.

This is my first post without any photos I’ve taken.  For me, they were not an option.

“I cannot conceive that the man who dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a machine. He also had a heart, just like you. He also had his wife and children, his old mother and father. He was as much a human being as you are—with a difference. He was trained to follow orders without questioning, and when the order was given, he simply followed it.”
― Osho, Intimacy: Trusting Oneself and the Other

As many times as I’d seen the image of the remaining shell at ground zero, I was not quite prepared for the impact it had, seeing it “in real life.” My eyes immediately welled up with tears. If I could have, I would have wept for hours. I wanted to put my arms round every Japanese person I saw, saying, “I am so sorry.” It was horrible to be from the country that dropped this bomb, no matter the reasons or justifications.

“Could this be my own face, I wondered. My heart pounded at the idea, and the face in the mirror grew more and more unfamiliar.”
― Masuji Ibuse, Black Rain

black rain

Black rain fallout at Hiroshima

Suddenly the impossibility of really imagining a nuclear bomb dropping out of a sunny sky on an ordinary morning, became a reality that had to be considered. Here in the Peace Park, I could see that within a few deadly seconds, a vibrant neighborhood was transformed into a toxic landscape. Schools were destroyed. The few children who survived the initial blast and made it home, often died within hours of being reunited with a parent.

Dropping those atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a war crime. — George Wald – American scientist

The flash, the heat, the blow, the radiation, the destruction. All there to read or hear about. The black rain. The survivor’s burns and ultimate deaths. The babies dead in their mother’s arms. The shredded clothes of the victims. The survivors’ stories. Ultimately too painful to keep taking in.


It was all especially poignant and horrifying because of the recent revival of talks about nuclear war.

My idea for reversing the precarious future of humankind ? Insist that every head of state visit this site to absorb its horrifying lessons.

“I thought scientists were going to find out exactly how everything worked, and then make it work better. I fully expected that by the time I was twenty-one, some scientist, maybe my brother, would have taken a colour photograph of God Almighty — and sold it to Popular Mechanics magazine. Scientific truth was going to make us so happy and comfortable.

What actually happened when I was twenty-one was that we dropped scientific truth on Hiroshima.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


  • Linda Mason says:

    I remember when Barack made a gracious visit to Hiroshima. I wonder how donnie avoided going, he needs at least one good life lesson. Thanks for your writing.

  • My mother was a young woman during WWII and her view of the bombing was that it saved lives. I never expressed my views but I have always felt it was a horrible decision, a sin to have killed innocent civilians. Thank you for this post, we need to remember such a horrific period of history and hopefully we won’t revisit with another event.

  • dbsite33 says:

    Brought tears to my eyes, Dianne. ALL war is a crime, but this was a biggie. Can only hope the nut who is “running” this country is prevented from “pushing the button” again.

  • Judi Wallner says:

    After reading this Dianne I can’t form my words in a coherent way to begin to understand the madness of the destruction that we wrought on each other and the earth.

  • kateccsb says:

    Hi Diane, I had a similar experience being in Hiroshima. We stayed at Friendship House when we were there. They provided a person to take us on a tour of the Peace Park. My kids were only 3 and 7 at the time. The memorial to the 9000 middle schoolers especially hit hard. I think all Americans should go to Hiroshima. It is beautiful that it has transformed itself into a city of peace. xxoo, Kate