Wednesday, November 4, 2015

N A G A S A K I : another beautiful city utterly destroyed by an atomic bomb - once again ALIVE

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

As I cropped and "fixed" many of the thousands of photographs I made in Nagasaki over 3 days, I sobbed and wanted to WRITE THEN, scribble down my thoughts and intense feelings, but perhaps it is best that I write now. Because there is never enough to say, nothing to reverse history or make everything alright. I should start by saying how lucky I am to have these two dear and beautiful friends who saved my life on Ninoshima Island from my near-death hornnet attack - Kiri-san and Michiko-san - Kiri on the way to the old Catholic cemetery overlooking Nagasaki - some tombstonses are over 500 years old! They invited and came with me to Nagasaki and made an impossibly sad experience beautiful....

 at the Atomic Bomb Museum - a place where it is hard to smile.....

 Having Mr. Yamakawa Takeshi sign one of his many books on Nagasaki - in the lobby of the Catholic Center. He and his wife Fusako - both A-Bomb survivors - were our tour guides for the day. it was supposed to be only 2.5 hours but we spent the whole day together....

Michiko reflected on the clock memorial at the Nagasaki Medical College that was destroyed - the clock is permanently set at 11:02 - the time of the detonation

Coming up for air from the Ground Level at the time of the bombing

2 of 5 air raid shelters were destroyed for an escalator. Even the Americans were impressed by these air raid shelters, as people survived the A-bomb in them - some people anyway....

We stayed at the Catholic Center, where Pope John Paul II stayed, right across the street from the Urekami Ctahedral - rebuilt after the Atomic Bomb. I felt at home - having gone to Catholic school for 8 years in my childhood. Nuns walked by in the morning. Church bells rang three times a day...curfew at 11:10pm but the first night we were all asleep by 9pm - it is exhausting to consider, look at, honor, remember and feel the pain and weight and unforgiveable acts throughout history, especially the unnecessary slaughter and poison of so many innocent civilians in the name of science, study, research, revenge, war, competition, as expenditures that needed to be tested/spent...

the rebuilt Urekami Cathedral with the original belfry tumbled down the hill, forever there....many people wanted to leave the Urekami cathedral in ruins - like the Hiroshima peace Dome - but an individual mayor decided to take it away and rebuild a new one - after a trip to the USA. However, after visiting the museum of Dr. Nagai Takashi, and watching the informative videos on his life work, we learned that he wanted to rebuild the cathedral very early on after the war - because of his strong faith. After learning that, it feels different....

the belfry was so heavy and big that it stopped a river from flowing. When the city tried to dig it out, they realized the hill would erode, so they left it "as is" as testament, witness, evidence. I love the ladder on the left and the little stone flower...

A boat = a dome

definitely like a boat - i never knew

event he crumpled new rain downspouts are beautiful

through the stained glass - no photographs are allowed but because I am an "American photographer and Catholic" (baptised and confirmed anyway - no need to explain my atheism) I was allowed!

coins left on the base of one of the A-bombed statues - for Amy White 

when we came back out into the light, there were crowds of school groups

eucharist and tweezers??!!

her fingers are broken off, amputated, tortured

 Nagasaki was the first and only city to "allow foreigners" for centuries - due to trade / ports - so it is the most "christian". This is the original "Bombed Mary" - a replica is in the church for visitors. After centuries of persecution, it is disappointing and surprising that "only if you are a Christian" may you see the original!

 names etched in copper plates of the Nagasaki Christian dead as a result of the A-bomb

 magical light on the pews

 the church street wall survived

the weight of stone

This Shinto Temple Tori Gate was split in two from the blast of the A-Bomb

The city / Temple decided to leave it. It is loved and kept comfortable within a neighborhood. You can hear the children singing and playing in the nearby kindergarten

the broken pieces of the other half of the Tori gate are left on the side of the pathway

Our animated Fusako Takeshi tour guide, survivor, cook, nutritionist, activist, wife, mother, sister, historian, friend, beautiful woman - she reminds me of Yoko Ono in style...

Yamakawa Takeshi, the other tour guide, Fusako's husband, author of many books on Ngasaki, had us stand in a special (out of the way) spot to look UP to see the shifting in the top of the gate....

Love these shinto wrappings, ties, ropes, strings, paper offerings, forms of worship - this one tied around the base of the standing Tori pillar

the burned charred darkened blackened ashen corner of the pillar's foundation - 70+ years after the cause, the A-bomb

remnants of the other pillar

Love this "totem pole / Shinto pillar" in front of / made by the kindergarteners in the pink/peach school behind it...for Shane Smith

Here are the lovely Takashis - at their car - in which they so sweetly drove us to a big mall so we could ride the 11 minute ferris wheel for a spectacular view of Nagasaki

detail of one of the bridges near the cathedral and Catholic Center

The most spectacular and beautiful and hopeful place in Nagasaki for me was this place: two 400 year old Camphor Trees at a Shinto Temple. I loved them so much that I went back at 6:30am the next day to collect leaves and sticks from the ground beneath them. This is not so easy to do, as they rake the ground clean beneath all trees at temples and in parks very early in the morning. Luckily, it is fall, so I was able to collect freshly fallen and some dry leaves for cyanotypes and photograms...

you can see the repairs done on the trees; the one on the left (not this one) was cut in half from the top - stunted and forlorn, but new growth for the last 70+ years gives it a healthy and normal appearnce. The things and history and life and death these trees have witnessed and felt....

some of the brooms

massive and small stones and debris were flung at and embedded in the tree - there is this wire screen mesh cage into which you may look and see some of those stones in a cave created by the blast....

jars of paper cranes from 6 years ago left at the memorial below the trees

Shinto Stone Lantern and a stand of paper cranes

Mr. Takashi explaining how and why the Tori Gate Pilar fell and how the trees reflect the same damage - the left pillar fell, the left tree was damaged much more....

tree mendings

medicine bandage 

one of the many big stones hurled at and into the tree from the bomb's blast:

At dusk we hiked up to the old Catholic Cemetery. Christianity was outlawed for decades and many christians were persecuted, so some of the stones are almost invisible as deliberate tomb stones. The cemetery looks out over the city and mountains. Cemeteries are some of my favorite places in the world, in every country I have visited. Peaceful. Quiet. Beautiful. Full of the energy of the living and the dead, efforts to remember, to hold on, to make present the absence, the loss, the gone, the remains.

Here are 2 barely perceptible "grave stones" - if you look closely enough (when you are there) you can see the scratchings, markings in the surface, towards the pavement.....

obviously, this one has been "repaired" and they have copied the markings into the cement repair

I had never seen a man walk a cat before/

The steps down from the Camphor Trees are old and worn, very uneven, so the people living their (or the monks?) painted the edges white - lovely!

outside of the Shinto Temple near the Camphor trees

drawing in the shinto temple dirt - Michiko it says nothing. I think it says something.

our view of the Urekami Cathedral / some of the city from the Catholic Center's 5th floor

mosaic shop wall, dogwoods always remind me of my grandmother (and the matching necklace and earrings - now gone - she gave me for my confirmation and of Amy Ruth Buchanan)

found Lucio Fontana

Kiri and Michiko with Pope John Paul II who stayed at the humble Catholic Center. He also refused to give his speech in front of the immense and famous Nagasaki statues in Peace Park - a very controversial statue of a naked man with lots of muscle and power - built with funds collected from millions of people while citizens of Nagasaki went hungry and cold....

death toll as of now
as a result of the A-Bomb
at the hypocenter in Nagasaki

the first hypocenter marker

fragment of the Urekami Cathedral moved to the hypocenter / Atomic Bomb Park. In Nagasaki there are two parks - the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Park....very different than Hiroshima.

hypocenter blade monument

love ladders and especially having the chance
to photograph them in different lights
on different days at different times

the controversial man of Peace Park
pointing up to the heavens / bomb
bestowing peace on the city
with the other hand.
I read him as oppressing with his left hand
and commanding with his right

he is flanked with these 2 humble wooden crane huts

have to find the moments of joy and pleasure in the visual 
amidst so much pain and intense focus

rebuilt school, mosaic exterior, after the one before was destroyed by the bomb

my long morning shadow in the driveway of Nagasaki Medical College, rebuilt, where Dr. Nagai Takeshi taught and where "western medicine" was introduced to Japan = x-rays? radiation?

if this is someone's house, which I believe it is, I covet it.

3 leaves from Nagasaki.

nightime traffic control

I wan to do another book about Japan
of photographs
color and black and white
more poetic
not necessarily focused on the A-bombs
or radiation - Fukushima, Hiroshima, Nagasaki
that would certainly include this one of a perfect bucket / bushel
in which a small plant tries to grow

police station near Dr. Nagai Takashi's hut / museum

back at the Shinto Temple - these paper prayers - again, Yoko Ono comes to mind and heart

old prison foundation, destroyed by A-bomb...prison filled with forced laborers, war resisters, protesters.....same old same old

Fusako pints out where the hangings occurred - city decided to cover it up with a parking lot

lucky us - a rainbow in the peace fountain

one of many lions / animals guarding memorials - this one so lovingly repaired

at the sushi restaurant - not our room - we ate in the main room and were joined by drinking men, one an A-bomb survivor and Nagasaki State Assemblyman and the other an Associate Professor of biomedical engineering - both pro-nuclear power and anti-nuclear weapons. I wish I could have talked with them in Japanese to expalin that you can't have one without the other....

for Joy Drury Cox and Ben Alper

The first place we went upon our arrival to Nagasaki and after our check-in at the Catholic Center was the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (vs. the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima). A name / title says a lot about a place. Here is an installation in the museum, a simulated map narrative of the hypocenter, explosion, effects, timing, zones, concentric circles of death, poison, radiation, smoke, black rain, wind.....

whimpering in a corner
I load more film
and blow my nose 
and think, I just have to keep making images
what else can I do?
should i just look
just be

this relic renders me hopeless
human hand bones embedded in melted glass.
Michiko asks me why I use the word relic sometimes
and artifact other times.
I say that relics are more human, more ritualistic, perhaps spiritual,
religious - like reliquary and artifacts are more historical, inanimate -
not sure if this is rhetorically / linguistically correct, but it is my own answer

  1. an object surviving from an earlier time, especially one of historical interest.
    "a museum of railway relics"
    synonyms:artefact, historical object, ancient object, antiquityantiqueheirloom,object of virtu, curio
    "a Viking relic which was more than a thousand years old"
    • a part of a deceased holy person's body or belongings kept as an object of reverence.
      "miracles wrought by the relics of St Stephen"
      synonyms:remains, body parts, bones; More
    • a person or thing that has survived from an earlier time but is now outmoded.
      "the supermodel has become an embarrassing relic from the early 1990s"

evidence of burns - can not look
i look . don't look
do not look

keloid scars
cataracts blindness
burning thirst hunger death
loss of entire families
ashen babies
floating corpses

Detail of a replica of the bomb FAT MAN that was dropped on Nagasaki, 3 days after Hiroshima, when there was no need. Japan was going to surrender. There was no possible way Japan was going to "win the war". No one ever wins a war.

part of the engine? mechanism? part of the bomb FAT MAN - artifact.
noun: artifact
  1. 1.
    an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest.
    "gold and silver artefacts"
  2. 2.
    something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure.
    "the curvature of the surface is an artefact of the wide-angle view"

shards of glass pulled out of the body of a victim-survivor. Could not tell from the label if the person was dead or alive when the glass was extracted. RELIC.

globe with nuclear explosions - bombs / testings - shown

stills from the film that James Elkins writes about in his essay in my book AFTER HIROSHIMA
I winced and turned away
as a doctor swabs a girl's stump of a hand
with pincers and a bit of cotton, alcohol? pain.

tea kettle

"Lookin out at the morning rain....I used to feel uninspired..
but when I knew I had to face another day...."

Hall of Remembrance like James Turrell meets a Pope - 
lists / archive of the names of the dead
are kept in the glass tower on shelves

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