In a time when I could’ve only dreamed of the lush mountains, the busy streets, the close-knit shops, and welcoming community of Japan, I was finally given the opportunity to live this dream out and see it all in person. Growing up I’ve always had the desire to immerse myself in expansive experiences that involve discovering the facets across the world and its people. Japan is one of the most stimulating, engaging, and awe-inspiring places known has been nothing short of an adventure for me.
One of the most moving and eye-opening experiences of the trip was our time in Hiroshima. It was the most I’ve been able to learn about a city, it’s history, it’s people, and the resilience that has been shown to define an identity of peace. Learning the stories of the hibakusha and having direct exposure to exploring the city gave a significant marker for how much the city has evolved, and where it continues to aim to grow. I think it was quite the blessing to also stay at the World Friendship Center, be so close to the river, and have such a serene community. It was indeed a very scenic accommodation and gave a genuinely comfortable sense of peace.
Overall, everything we experienced in Hiroshima — from listening to hibakusha narratives to watching a one-man play — felt very authentic and I couldn’t have had a bigger appreciation for the value and wonder of being able to deeply absorb unique surroundings. In general, I’ve been able to have this widely authentic experience in every part of Japan we’ve visited, but I believe my heart will always hold a special place for Hiroshima. There were many ‘firsts’ here, including sleeping on tatami mats to trying out onigiri from 7/11, and undoubtedly my first time being able to visit a beautiful country that I’ve had only gathering dust on my bucket list for years.
By, Mehrin Ahmed