Recently, my husband and I (and some brethren from our church) we had an interesting trip to South Korea and Japan. We visited many beautiful places in these countries. Today I shall tell you some of my observations about the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Since I was a child, I heard that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed by atomic bombs at the end of the second world war. I was excited to see Nagasaki.
These are some general information about the city itself. Japan is one of the most developed countries in the world. We were amazed at the technology over there. In the same time, it is one of the least evangelized countries in the world. Christianity in Japan is among the nation’s minority religions. Around 1 % of the population claims Christian belief. Nagasaki was and still is ‘the Christian capital of Japan’! Christianity first arrived in Japan in 1549, when the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier landed in the port of Nagasaki. The native Japanese accepted the Christian faith and Nagasaki became one of Asia’s most important Christian centers known as “a little Rome.”
The word Nagasaki in Japanese means ‘covered by a long cape or wrapped in a mantle’. Interestingly, the city is surrounded by hills that helped protect the people during the bombing. They absorbed much of the shock. Because of these hills, the destruction in Nagasaki was less than the bombing in Hiroshima. During the second world war Japan was on the side of Germany. They attacked the US by bombing Pearl Harbor. In retaliation, the American Government dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, to force Japan to surrender. They refused! Then a second bomb landed on Nagasaki. It was on the 9th of August 1945, at 11:02am. Six days later the emperor of Japan declared the unconditional surrender of Japan. These are the historical facts! In Nagasaki, at least 40,000 people were killed instantly and 60,000 others seriously injured. Nobody knows the total number of people who died or were affected. Combined with Hiroshima, more than 250,000 people died from the blasts. In the days and months following the explosion, more people died from their injuries. Since then, the number of birth defects and cancers has increased because of the radiation. Up to this point it is a sad story!
We went to the place called ‘ground zero’ where the bomb landed in 1945. Next to it there is a beautiful quiet garden called “Peace Park”. We saw a big statue they placed in that park. It is like a giant man whose right index points to heaven, meaning that judgment belongs to God alone. The finger is also a warning so that none should use atomic bombs again. The left hand is horizontal like telling men to have peace and to be still. One leg is resting under the body, like we should rest our bodies and souls. The second leg’s position is like getting ready to run, in case there is danger. The foundation where this statue stands is made from burnt stones collected after the bomb. Because of the bomb, it was said that no green plant will grow for the next 70 years. Against the predications, few weeks later, the oleander tree bloomed giving hope to the hopeless. Since then, the oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima.
At the park there is a fountain called ‘the Water of life’. There are many flowers and beautiful works of art. There is a big statue of a mother holding her dead child. On the statue it is written 8-9-11:02 (the day and hour when the bomb fell). The biggest building at ground zero was the city prison. Everything was pulverized. What is left is only the foundation. Next to it there is a monument to the testimony of a man who survived the bomb. He was a prison warden. He was a Christian. He was talking to his boss when suddenly everything and everybody disappeared around him including his boss. He said that he felt a cloud covering him like a blanket. He survived without any injury. This is surely God’s miracle! Praise the Lord! The Catholic Cathedral was damaged but still ‘survived’ from the blast. My husband and I took a picture next to the ruins of this church. Since then they build a new one close by.
I saw that since they rebuilt the city the people decided to add a touch of beauty to everything they do. For example, on some streets, they mixed pink granite with the regular grey one. It looks like a carpet outside. I also saw that the sewage ‘man-holes’ on the streets and the metal grill covers around the trees are beautiful with flowers, each having a unique design. The city is calm and peaceful. Japan is now one of the cleanest and safest places on earth! In a world troubled by many problems, this peace should me supernatural! Praise the Lord!
What are the lessons? A sad story could have ended in eternal sadness! Hurts could have produced bitterness and stagnation. But the people decided to change their story. It takes the grace of God! The truth is that they could fall no lower than that. They humbled themselves, forgave the enemy and started a new life. You can feel the power of forgiveness in Japan, especially in Nagasaki. I have never seen a city that is perfumed with so much grace, forgiveness and peace. This is a reminder that God can change men, cities and countries. It is so good to see how, by the grace of God, good overcomes evil. It is so good to taste hope! And life! I personally needed that! Japan surprised me! Not so much the technology but seeing this peace at the end of suffering! I held that to my heart! This will be my gift from Japan! By faith, I now plant this supernatural hope in the ground of Nigeria where I live and do ministry! For with God, and willing people, all things are possible!
(In the pictures taken at Nagasaki, Japan; me at the fountain called ‘the water of life’; me in front of the pillar of the church that survived the bomb; my husband and I in front of the ruins of the church (in the background you see the newly rebuilt church); walking on a road made from grey and pink granite (just to make it beautiful); two doves at ground zero; the foundation of the prison (that is all that was left from the building); a public toilet at Peace Park (so clean and beautiful looking like a chapel); the main statue at Peace Park; one of many artistic sewage man-hole on the pavement; Oleander flowers, the symbol of Nagasaki)