Hiroshima -- the "Liveliest” City in Japan
“Hiroshima! Everybody off!” That must be what the man in the Japanese stationmaster's uniform shouted, as the fastest train in the world slipped to a stop in Hiroshima Station. I did not understand what he was saying. First of all, because he was shouting in Japanese. And secondly, because I had a lump in my throat and a lot of sad thoughts on my mind that had little to do with anything a Nippon railways official might say. The very act of stepping on this soil, in breathing this air of Hiroshima, was for me a far greater adventure than any trip or any reportorial assignment I'd previously taken. Was I not at the scene of the crime?
The Japanese crowd did not appear to have the same preoccupations that I had. From the sidewalk outside the station, things seemed much the same as in other Japanese cities. Little girls and elderly ladies in kimonos rubbed shoulders with teenagers and women in western dress. Serious looking men spoke to one another as if they were oblivious of the crowds about them, and bobbed up and down re-heatedly in little bows, as they exchanged the ritual formula of gratitude and respect: "Tomo aligato gozayimas." Others were using little red telephones that hung on the facades of grocery stores and tobacco shops.
"Hi! Hi!" said the cab driver, whose door popped open at the very sight of a traveler. "Hi", or something that sounds very much like it, means "yes". "Can you take me to City Hall?" He grinned at me in the rear-view mirror and repeated "Hi!" "Hi! ’ We set off at top speed through the
narrow streets of Hiroshima. The tall buildings of the martyred city flashed by as we lurched from side to side in response to the driver's sharp twists of the wheel.
Just as I was beginning to find the ride long, the taxi screeched to a halt, and the driver got out and went over to a policeman to ask the way. As in Tokyo, taxi drivers in Hiroshima often know little of their city, but to avoid loss of face before foreigners, will not admit their ignorance, and will accept any destination without concern for how long it may take them to find it. At last this intermezzo came to an end, and I found myself in front of the gigantic City Hall. The usher bowed deeply and heaved a long, almost musical sigh, when I showed him the invitation which the mayor had sent me in response to my request for an interview. "That is not here, sir," he said in English. "The mayor expects you tonight for dinner with other foreigners or, the restaurant boat. See? This is where it is.” He sketched a little map for me on the back of my invitation.
Thanks to his map, I was able to find a taxi driver who could take me straight to the canal embankment , where a sort of barge with a roof like one on a Japanese house was moored . The Japanese build their traditional houses on boats when land becomes too expensive. The rather arresting spectacle of little old Japan adrift adrift amid beige concrete skyscrapers is the very symbol of the incessant struggle between the kimono and the miniskirt.
At the door to the restaurant, a stunning, porcelain-faced woman in traditional costume asked me to remove my shoes. This done, I entered one of the low-ceilinged rooms of the little floating house, treading cautiously on the soft matting and experiencing a twinge of embarrassment at the prospect of meeting the mayor of Hiroshima in my socks.
He was a tall, thin man, sad-eyed and serious. Quite unexpectedly, the strange emotion which had overwhelmed me at the station returned, and I was again crushed by the thought that I now stood on the site of the first atomic bombardment, where thousands upon thousands of people had been slain in one second, where thousands upon thousands of others had lingered on to die in slow agony .
The introductions were made. Most of the guests were Japanese, and it was difficult for me to ask them just why we were gathered here. The few Americans and Germans seemed just as inhibited as I was. "Gentlemen," said the mayor, "I am happy to welcome you to Hiroshima." Everyone bowed, including the Westerners. After three days in Japan, the spinal column becomes extraordinarily flexible.
"Gentlemen, it is a very great honor to have you here in Hiroshima."
There were fresh bows, and the faces grew more and more serious each time the name Hiroshima was repeated.
"Hiroshima, as you know, is a city familiar to everyone,” continued the mayor.
"Yes, yes, of course,” murmured the company, more and more agitated.
"Seldom has a city gained such world renown, and I am proud and happy to welcome you to Hiroshima, a town known throughout the world for its--- oysters".
I was just about to make my little bow of assent, when the meaning of these last words sank in, jolting me out of my sad reverie .
"Hiroshima – oysters? What about the bomb and the misery and humanity's most heinous crime?" While the mayor went on with his speech in praise of southern Japanese sea food, I cautiously backed away and headed toward the far side of the room, where a few men were talking among themselves and paying little attention to the mayor's speech. "You look puzzled," said a small Japanese man with very large eye-glasses.
"Well, I must confess that I did not expect a speech about oysters here. I thought that Hiroshima still felt the impact of the atomic impact ."
"No one talks about it any more, and no one wants to, especially, the people who were born here or who lived through it. "Do you feel the same way, too?"
"I was here, but I was not in the center of town. I tell you this because I am almost an old man. There are two different schools of thought in this city of oysters, one that would like to preserve traces of the bomb, and the other that would like to get rid of everything, even the monument that was erected at the point of impact. They would also like to demolish the atomic museum." "Why would they want to do that?"
"Because it hurts everybody, and because time marches on. That is why." The small Japanese man smiled, his eyes nearly closed behind their thick lenses. "If you write about this city, do not forget to say that it is the gayest city in Japan, even it many of the town's people still bear hidden wounds, and burns."
Like any other, the hospital smelled of formaldehyde and ethere . Stretchers and wheelchairs lined the walls of endless corridors, and nurses walked by carrying Stretchers instruments, the very sight of which would send shivers down the spine of any healthy visitor. The so-called atomic section was located on the third floor. It consisted of 17 beds.
"I am a fisherman by trade. I have been here a very long time, more than twenty years, "said an old man in Japanese pajamas. “What is wrong with you?”
"Something inside. I was in Hiroshima when it happened. I saw the fire ball. But I had no burns on my face or body. I ran all over the city looking for missing friends and relatives. I thought somehow I had been spared. But later my hair began to fall out, and my belly turned to water. I felt sick, and ever since then they have been testing and treating me. " The doctor at my side explained and commented upon the old man's story, "We still have a handful of patients here who
are being kept alive by constant care. The others died as a result of their injuries, or else committed suicide . "
"Why did they commit suicide?"
"It is humiliating to survive in this city. If you bear any visible scars of atomic burns, your children will encounter prejudice on the par t of those who do not. No one will marry the daughter or the niece of an atomic bomb victim. People are afraid of genetic damage from the radiation." The old fisherman gazed at me politely and with interest.
Hanging over the patient was a big ball made of bits of brightly colored paper, folded into the shape of tiny birds. "What's that?" I asked.
"Those are my lucky birds. Each day that I escape death, each day of suffering that helps to free me from earthly cares, I make a new little paper bird, and add it to the others. This way I look at them and congratulate myself of the good fortune that my illness has brought me. Because, thanks to it, I have the opportunity to improve my character."
Once again, outside in the open air, I tore into little pieces a small notebook with questions that I'd prepared in advance for interviews with the patients of the atomic ward. Among them was the question: Do you really think that Hiroshima is the liveliest city in Japan? I never asked it. But I could read the answer in every eye.
(from an American radio program presented by Ed Kay)
1) Hiroshima: a seaport, capital of Hiroshima prefecture in southwest Japan. Population (1970) 54,834. On Aug. 6, 1945, Hiroshima was the first city to be struck by an atomic bomb, dropped by the U. S, air force. Almost 130 000 people were killed, injured, or missing, and 90% of the city was leveled. Much of the city has been reconstructed, but a gutted section of the city has been set aside as a "Peace City" to illustrate the effect of an atomic bomb. Since 1955, an annual world conference against nuclear weapons has met in Hiroshima.
2) Nippon: (Japanese) Japan
3) Tomo aligato gozayimas: (Japanese) Thank you very much.
4) Hi: (Japanese) yes
5) kimono: (Japanese) a loose robe with wide sleeves and a broad sash traditionally worn as an outer garment by the Japanese
6) tatami: (Japanese) straw matting used as a floor covering in a Japanese home. It is a custom of the Japanese to remove their shoes once they go indoors, walking on the tatami matting in their socks.
Detailed Study of the Text
1. slip: to move slidingly, smoothly, secretly or unnoticed. it carries a stronger implication of a frictionless than slide.
2. lump: a mass of sth. solid without a special size of shape
a lump of lead, sugar
Black coffee, 2 lumps, please!
a hard swelling on the body
She was afraid when she felt a lump in her left breast
to have a lump in one's throat:
to have a tight feeling in the throat because strong emotion, such as sorrow or gratitude, to have one's throat choked, to have a feeling of pressure, being unable to breath, a tight sensation in the throat caused by unexpressed pity, sorrow, excitement, etc.
All during her husband's funeral, she had ...
John's mother had a ... at his college graduation.
The strong sensation of excitement and sorrow made me unable to breathe or to speak as if my throat was choked, as if my throat got blocked by sth. solid.
3. on my mind: troubling one's thoughts, causing anxiety, unhappiness. When you have sth on your mind, you can't get rid of it, you are completely preoccupied, and obsessed. His failure weighs heavily on him mind.
He has got too much on his mind to worry about your problem.
I am glad you want to talk about this. It's been on my mind for weeks.
in one's mind: think about, think of
I think I know what's in your mind.
Her mother was always in her mind.
4. the very act of stepping on this soil:
act and action:
Action refers primarily to the process of acting; act to the result, the things done. An action is usually regarded as occupying some time and involving more than one step; an act is more frequently thought of as momentary of instantaneous and as individual.
The rescue of a shipwrecked crew is a heroic action while the launching of the lifeboat, a brave act. a course of action
on this soil: on this land, on this earth, ground
The word SOIL conveys a strong emotion, it is an emotive word.
A person in exile comes back to his motherland, he kneels down to kiss the soil. Here is suggests the emotion of the author. He thinks his country is responsible for the A-bomb destruction. He is preoccupied. He has the feeling of atoning (making repayment) for the crime. 5. adventure: a journey that is strange and exciting and often dangerous, sth. you do or a situation you become involved in that is rather unusual, exciting and dangerous. From the text itself one can clearly see that the meaning is “trip” since it is followed by this word.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn
6. reportorial: (not in Longman or ALD)
belonging to, of, about a reporter. the adj. form of reporter
7. crime: an offence which is punishable by law
Here: an immoral act
Appear, Look, and Seem can mean to be as stated in one's view or judgement, but not necessarily in fact.
Seem suggests an opinion based on subjective impression rather than objective signs. He seems tired.
My other visits to Beijing were twenty years ago. How would it seem after such a long time?
Look implies that the opinion is based on a general visual impression.
His lips looked unnatural.
He looks nervous.
Appear suggests a distorted impression, such as can be produced by a restricted point of view. His tongue could make the worse appear the better reason.
He appeared not to have heard what had been said about him.
He appears / seems / looks to be / like an honest man.
9. preoccupy: to fill the thoughts or hold the interest of, to fill one's mind completely so that not enough attention is given to other present matters
When he is preoccupied with his hobby, he has no idea of what is going on around him. I was too preoccupied to hear the bell.
He had a preoccupied look on his face, as if sth. was troubling him.
preoccupation: extreme concern for sth.
Reading is his main preoccupation.
It seemed to me that the Japanese did not have the same extreme concern which is bothering me. I was totally absorbed in the consideration of the crime, but the Japanese did not appear to be so. My mind was completely filled with sad thoughts ...
10. rub shoulders with: to meet and mix with (people)
This is not the sort of club where the great rub shoulders with the humble. A person in my position rubs shoulders with all kinds of people.
In our class, people of all trades (porter, carpenter, coppersmith, etc.) rubber shoulders with each other.
11. oblivious: be unaware of, not noticing, unconscious of, lacking mindful attention Their government is oblivious of the rights of the governed.
I am oblivious of my former failure.
I was so preoccupied with the book that I was oblivious of the surroundings. I was so preoccupied with the beautiful woman I met on the bus that I was oblivious of the pickpocket beside me / of what the conductress was yelling when the bus came to a stop. 12. bob: to move up and down quickly and repeatedly
The cork on the fishing line bobbed up and down on the water.
13. rite: form of behaviour with a fixed pattern. A rite is a series of words and actions which as a fixed order and which is used for a special religious purpose.
I don't know much about the rites of that church.
Secret society has their special rites.
ceremonial / burial / funeral rites
the rites of hospitality
the marriage rite of the church
Ritual actions are always done in exactly the same way whenever a particular situation arises, (a slightly humorous use). On Sunday we make our ritual visit to the pub at lunchtime. 14. formula: an expression which is often used in a particular situation, esp. one that has come to sound stupid and meaningless
They exchange the set of conventionally / customarily fixed pattern of daily greetings. 15. facade: front or face of a building towards a street or open place
16. grin: broad smile that shows the teeth, it intends to imply naive cheerfulness
17. rear-view mirror: a mirror (as in an automobile) that gives a view of the area behind the
18. martyr: person who is put to death or caused to suffer for his beliefs or for the sake of a great
cause or principle a martyr to a cause / love (殉情) / duty (殉职)
Eternal life to the revolutionary martyrs! (革命英雄永垂不朽)
v.: to put to death, cause to suffer, to torture, out of cruelty 19. lurch: to move with irregular sudden movements, to move unsteadily, clumsily, with heavy
rolling and swaying back and forth
20. in response to: as an answer to
In response to your inquiries, we regret to inform you that we cannot help you in this matter.
Twice I put the request to him but he said nothing in response. 21. twist: to wind a number of threads, etc. together
to make a rope by twisting threads
to twist the hair to make it curl
to turn, to change direction abruptly
to twist the cap of a tube of tooth paste
He twisted my arm.
Give the handle a twist, that will open the box.
22. screech: make a harsh, piercing sound, to make a sharp, high-pitched noise 23. halt: to stop or pause, mainly used in the phrase "come to a halt" 24. ignorance: lack of knowledge
Please forgive our ignorance.
Poverty, disease and ignorance remain major world problems. We are in complete ignorance of his plan.
ignorant: To be ignorant of sth. is not to know it.
He is quite ignorant of Latin.
She was ignorant of his presence.
disregard: to treat as not worthy of notice
He disregarded Tom , and spoke straight to me.
We disregarded the gossip and rumours.
neglect: to give no or too little attention or care to
You are neglecting your work / duty.
There is a factor which we must certainly not neglect.
neglect: fail to do sth. because of carelessness
He neglected to return the book to the library.
Don't neglect to lock (locking) the door when you leave.
To ignore sth. is to pretend not to know or see it.
She saw him coming but ignored him.
It is not a question that can be ignored.
Of these three words, ignore is the strongest and neglect is the weakest It is a point of honour with the taxi driver to take the passenger to whichever destination he want
25. intermezzo: short musical composition to be played between the acts of a drama or an opera, or one that connects the main d