I am so lucky to have my home away from home in Hiroshima at the World Friendship Center. Naomi, a WFC board member, offered to take me on a daytrip with my lifesaving and beautiful friend Michiko Yamane and I asked to go to the historic town of Takahara. The old city was not bombed during WWII, so the historical neighborhood is stunningly beautiful. Knowing me, Michiko suggested that we visit the semi-famous Okuno-jima Island, once a "removed from the map" poison gas factory location and home to over 800 rabbits!!!!!
Situated in the lovely Seto Inland Sea, it is hard to wrap my head around warmongers deciding to kick off the farmers from their land and to build a enormous poison gas industry that was used in the Sino-Japan war against the Chinese. Hell lands on earth and unleashes disease and death. Several skeletons of buildings remain and there is a small museum.....but all around is simple breathtaking beauty.......just look:
Michiko's groovy white boots. I wish my identical black pair had lasted longer. I wore them out. I loved them so much......
This is a sweet interactive sculpture of bunny ears. When you stand in the heigh-appropriate place and pull out the adjustable wooden earpieces against your ears, you can hear the amplified sea.
My favorite brooms in the world - traditional, every day Japanese brooms.
Poison Gas electrical facility once upon a time....
The happy gang: Michiko, Mirei, Maila, Leona, Naomi
Gauze and masks in the poison gas museum. Not sure how much good - if any these things did for the poor workers - some teenagers - who were forced to work 13 hours straight.
There is a modest hotel on the island with 2 restaurants - where we had lunch. Love this squirrel looking rabbit mural.
One of the twins with a carrot and rabbits. Leona or Maila - sorry!
Storage place for poison gas drums.
This long metal pole with a basket on the end is used to get the rabbits out of the cistern if they fall in.
Tennis courts look as if they have not been used in decades. They transplanted me into an Antonioni film set.....gorgeous rusty ladder chairs.....
Either a bench - or if you flip it over - a trough.
One of the cavernous poison gas buildings. Keep Out the signs read but we went in because Michiko encouraged us to do so!
Old ashen heaps of peace crane offerings inside the buildings.
Twins for scale.
There are still shiny black stains from when the Allied Forces incinerated much of the facilities' materials (or whent he Japanese tried to burn evidence before the Allies).
Always hear Susan Sontag's mantra, "There is beauty in ruins."
These small chapel like spaces really felt spiritual to me - an aperture to the sky, long and ocular, stains from time, an orb....
Very few of the island trees had this intense ochre orange growing on their trunks...
A hillside of magical wild ferns
The ferry back to the mainland
Such beautiful and calm twins.
Ladders to the sea
The ferry ride to the island
After the island we walked around the ridiculously amazing town of Takahara.....
I learned of many uses for my encroaching bamboo at home in North Carolina that keeps me busy and healthy in constant battles......
People think I am crazy for loving this nets they use to cover garbage so the crows don't get into it or the wind blow it all over the street. I DO love these nets - yellow, blue or white. The white ones seem to be saturated with light and shadow blended into a perfect soft cream. It falls softly.
This woman Michiko, my dear friend, is always happy and often looks like a rock star, don't you think?
Maila on left and Leona on right. Sometimes it is easy for me to tell them apart and other times, no way.
Wires for John Williams.
Restaurant facade where we had dinner - coming up soon....
A famous sake-inventing couple that a sitcom was based on - in bronze and happy Michiko who met the actor and actress somewhere sometime. She knows EVERYBODY!
Plants growing on the roof
Man in a kimono to get discounts at all locations in Takahara.