It was July of 2008 and we walked up to our hostel in Hiroshima, Japan, sweaty, sticky, and tired. Why did we decide that coming to Japan during the summer was a good idea? Oh yeah, I guess it was the only opportunity we had to join our friend during his last month of summer vacation and the end of his studying abroad classes.
We quickly freshened up and made our way into the scorching heat. I instantly broke into a sweat the moment we made it out the front doors.
Good lord, it feels like Texas out here.
We were lucky and got a hostel near the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum – the focus of our trip to Hiroshima. Being on a budget we meandered into a 7-11 to pick up some refreshing, cold soba noodles and a CC Lemon to enjoy in the park while making our plans for the next few days.
A shady tree across the A-Bomb Dome called our names and the bench had a prime view of the park and one of the only standing buildings left from the A-Bomb that was dropped there in World War II. As we picked at our food – the heat makes your appetite nil – we melted onto the cool grass of the park and started people watching. A woman on a bicycle made her way to us.
Woman: “Are you guys from Australia?”
Oh man this was a conversation that I had wanted to avoid with the people of Hiroshima. Bracing ourselves our travel mate finally had the balls to squeak out…
Mate: “We’re American.”
We braced ourselves for what we could imagine was a tongue lashing. Instead, what we got was something that I would carry with me for the rest of my life. The woman cracked an amazingly warm smile and said,
Woman: “Welcome to Hiroshima!”
She rode off in a cheerful manner and we sat there stunned in silence in what seemed like an eternity.
I knew that my life would be forever tethered to this place. How could someone be so forgiving for such an atrocity that our country had done to these wonderful people? I have cried so many times replaying this conversation in my head. I had no clue that I could carry on guilt that surpassed generations. The love that she poured into those words will never be taken for granted and from that moment, I vowed to live a life with more forgiveness and love.
My favorite city that we have visited is Hiroshima.
Have you ever been caught off guard with how people perceive you?
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For top tips on how to not spend a fortune when you travel, check out these 21 great ways to spend less on holiday.