Keeping Busy


This blog post is coming out a bit late, and for that, I apologize. I have been so preoccupied that last week that I have struggled to manage time. I am finally able to sit down and dedicate a chunk of my time to writing this blog post.

There are two weeks left for me in Japan and it seems to be grabbing most of my attention. I keep picturing myself going back home to rural Illinois and then back to school. Two weeks ago, I found myself missing home, my friends, and my lifestyle; However, now I fret about going home and leaving the community of people I have worked and socialized with in Japan.

One thing I tend to worry about often is my relationship with people I have met. I am not good with forever goodbyes. I hate to think about not seeing the people I spent every day with for 6 weeks disappearing from my life. But, that is how life works. I am working to come to terms with that.

Enough with my sappy over-display of emotion, here is what I did this past week!

Tuesday was a bit rough for me personally. I started to feel sick when we came back from our trip to Osaka and Kyoto. My throat was sore and I was really congested. I was really worried that I might have gotten Covid while on our trip. I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to my health (and the health of others), so I quickly got tested Tuesday morning. I work with people much older than I am and I did not want to risk getting any of them sick. Hannah and I both tested negative luckily. We left work that day and made dinner in the hostel.

I am going to be honest, dinner was not my proudest cooking moment. I was a bit lazy and communal kitchens gross me out. My dinner was rice, with broccoli, tofu, and soy sauce. I know it sounds bland, I ate the same thing for dinner practically the whole week so I tried to spruce it up a little each time. I promise I make much more extravagant meals at home.

The next day was busy and tiring for us. We got up at 6:30 and met with a tree tour guide at 7:30 am. It was hot that afternoon, so that is why we did the tour earlier. The heat at 7:30 was still unbearable. The tour was fascinating. We looked at some of the trees in the city that survived the A-bomb. Most of the trees were wiped out by the bomb or weakened and then swept away by the typhoon in September. However, some were able to continue to stand. Some of these trees are obviously A-bombed trees, you can tell at first glance. The side facing the hypocenter might be a lighter color, have different-looking bark, or have branches strung out from irregular places and twisting into weird shapes. For some of the other trees, you need to take a closer look or know a lot more about trees than I do. Some of the trees were even able to reproduce after the A-bomb. These are called second and third-generation A-bombed trees. There is a famous story surrounding these trees. These trees became a symbol of hope and rehabilitation for one woman.

At the moment, I, unfortunately, can’t remember her name. Once I find her name I will be sure to include it in this post. There was a woman who struggled after the bombing. She struggled with her mental health immensely. She wanted to kill herself because of all the struggles and feelings she was facing. However, she saw that some of the trees that survived the bomb were able to grow, and that gave her hope. They inspired her to stay strong and continue living.

This is a very beautiful story and I am very appreciative that I was able to have the A-bombed tree tour. Later in the day, Hannah and I received a tour of the Schmoe House. The Schmoe House is now a mini museum/memorial remembering the aid that Floyd Schmoe was able to give to the people of Hiroshima after the bombing.

After the bombing, many hibakushas lived in shanty towns by the rivers in the city. They did not have proper housing. Floyd Schmoe, an American professor, provided support to the community by coming over to Hiroshima with a group of people to build houses for those living in shacks. The house we visited has had some work done since it was first built, but I believe the guide said the ceiling or its supports were the original. This was very impact full for me because I feel like most of the time foreigners help victims of mass violence through less direct means. They send money and letters, but building houses directly provided the hibakusha with something that they were missing and needed. Schmoe was also able to form a community and interact directly with the locals which I think is an important thing to do when providing support for people.

Thursday was a chill day for us. We mostly worked on our book project and then attended a presentation by one of the local professors. I am going, to be honest, the presentation was unlike any lecture I have seen as a college student. I learned a bit about film, literature, and U.S. perspective on the Atom-bomb after its dropping, though.

Friday we were able to join a translation class. We helped students give a better translation of the text that is originally in Japanese. It was a lot harder than you would think. You really have to think about what is the best wording to use and how to give the same message and not shift the meaning of the message the author gives.

I also finished the manga Barefoot Gen on Friday. I only finished the first book, but the ending was intense. I am going to be honest, after translating and reading dark literature all day, I felt a bit depressed for the rest of the day. We got dinner together, just Hannah and I, that night at a Vietnamese place we like called Ao Baba. Hannah was able to order for us in Vietnamese and I had yummy pho. I absolutely love pho. We also tried a Vietnamese energy drink. It was so sweet, it reminded me of Monster energy drinks.

Saturday I came into work feeling really sick, at this point I has fully lost my voice and I did not sleep well the night before. I was able to leave early, rest, do some work from the hostel, and get ready for the peace concert that night.

Hannah and I sang in the peace choir at the concert that night. We did not have much practice and couldn’t read the music and we both lost our voices so we mostly hummed along to the songs. Of course, we were front and center in the choir. The other musicians were absolutely wonderful. I love music and I heard so many talented people. Satoko-san, who I lived with for several weeks, played the piano and I was in awe. She is unbelievably talented.

Sunday, we spent time with Yoko-san! I have mentioned her here on my blog before, she taught us calligraphy once. She took us to a museum and bought us a delicious lunch. We told her about our struggles to find thrift stores that are not meant for tourists and she knew just the place. She took us to this shop and there were so many cute clothes. Hannah and I could spend all day in there. Afterward, Yoko-san took us for ice cream and back to the WFC to wait for our new host family to come to pick us up. Once we got picked up, we had dinner with them and moved all our stuff into their home.

We had a chill ending to a busy week and I met a lot of new people this week, which is very exciting for me. I have struggled to be social with some of the people here, just because I am a bit awkward. Finding people that I feel less awkward around was a good experience and I was able to push myself to become more social without making myself uncomfortable.

I hope my week sparked your interest. Here is what I learned and what I plan for the next two weeks in Japan:

I learned about the A-bomb trees and Floyd Schmoe. I think both of those were a big highlight of my week. I learned what works best for me work-ethic-wise. Creating a goal for the book project was helpful. I also have been keeping my headphones on to keep myself from getting distracted. I concretized my research question and methods. I am going to look more into the ABCC and US occupation in Japan following the bombing.

I created a plan for our book project to make sure we get it done before we leave. I thought it would be a good idea to have a goal set for each day of how many books we should finish. That goal seemed to be a good idea because we started getting a lot more books done. I plan to go to Miyajima next week and I am so excited. I cannot wait. I wish I would have gone earlier though, just so that I could be more familiar with the island and not have to explore a brand new place on my last week. I also plan to present on August 6th at the WFC open house. I am going to reflect on my time working here. I am working on the presentation now and I am feeling a lot of nostalgia.

Thank you for reading my blog. I apologize for the lack of photos. I am typically so good at photographing all my new experiences, but this past week was tiring for me and I seemed to be off my game. I hope to give exciting updates next week with more photos.

Mata later,


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