I’ve had a lot to absorb the past few days, and all of it has been in the presence of the beautiful Mt. Fuji. (I actually took that picture of Mt. Fuji from my hotel room. Just amazing.)
On the Eastern face of Mt. Fuji, we visited a US Military/ Japan Self Defense Force Training Area, where they do various types of training (from flying Ospreys, a type of aircraft, to shooting off long range explosive artillery). I was surprised that I was looking at training grounds, because it seemed more like it should be a park. I was informed that because of these training grounds, Mt. Fuji was not selected as a World Natural Heritage site.
Then the next day we visited a beach that was also used as training grounds (for tanks). We first walked through a pine forest that had been planted by farmers about 100 years ago to protect their crops from the sea wind. But instead of seeing beach when we exited the forest, we were greeted by this wall, built by the military (to stop the spread of the pine forest onto their training grounds). It’s a shame that we use such beautiful places to train to kill each other.
Right next to it was this sign, posted by the city:
The beach was open to the public, and there is a path on top of the wall that has stairs leading up to it on both sides, so we crossed that to get to the beach. I saw some people around the beach casually, so it seems people often use this space. According to the speaker, neither military ever notifies the city of when training is taking place; they just set up barricades in the morning and use the space all day. The beach was unnaturally flattened in a certain area by the tanks that have rolled over it. The people marching that lived in this city didn’t seem too happy about it.
At one point when we were marching, we passed through an area with many old, traditional Japanese-style houses, which I really enjoyed. It felt like I was really seeing Japan. My interpreter told me that the reason there is only these types of houses in this area of the city is because it is one of the only areas in the city spared from (non-nuclear) bombing during WW2. We destroyed so much Japanese cultural heritage.
Yesterday our march ended at a beautiful temple which had a monument to the hibakushas overlooking a distant view of Mt. Fuji, which appeared to be floating in the sky (behind the power lines, sadly).
At the end, we watched a short film about WW2 that had some graphic and shocking images of the atomic bomb victims. I’m getting an English copy later, which I’ll definitely share with my friends and family. Eveyone needs to see the effects of nuclear war, especially Americans.
I’ve seen some particularly beautiful sights these past few days (and met some really wonderful people), and it saddens me to think that my country could so easily wipe this place entirely off the map. Japan has such a rich and interesting culture that stretches back so much farther than any American history. The amount of history is really just incomprehensible to me.
In this day and age, no human should be victim to the atrocities of war, and no country should lose their heritage to such senseless violence. I think if our military leaders had seen the beauty of the places they bombed and met the people that were killed, they would not be able to destroy it all.