Summer night:
          ruined mountains, rivers
          cry out with one voice.

          Flaming trees 
          dance up
          into the angry autumn sky.

Timiki Hara,  Haiku 20, 6-7 August 1945

Today, we have been thinking, Emily and I, about
our visit to Japan in 1982. We were on a British Council tour of the Far East,
playing Viola and Feste respectively, and what we remember chiefly is the
friendliness of our audiences, our hosts in Hiroshima. We performed in a
college there and at the end of our show some students played traditional music
to us and there were speeches of welcome and appreciation. A party even
came to the station to wave us off. 

Hiroshima Peace Memorial or Genbaku Dōmu,
part of the 
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Photo by EP
Here in West Hampstead there is a Peace Park
too. Its opening on 9th August 1984 had been timed to coincide with
the 39th anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. Among its symbols
of peace is a white crane, representative of the origami cranes made by Sadako
Sasaki, who was two when the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and who, ten years
later, died of leukaemia caused by radiation exposure. 
Photo by EP
And among the messages of peace embedded
in a path through the park is a plaque inscribed with the words of the Mayor of
Photo by EP
It is worth mentioning that less than a mile north of the
Peace Park lies the grave of Joseph Rotblat, a longtime resident of West Hampstead and the only physicist to leave the Manhattan Project on the grounds
of conscience. In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts
towards nuclear disarmament. His gravestone bears the words with which he
concluded his Nobel lecture: ‘Above all remember your humanity.’

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