Japan Peace Leadership: Reflection – Barger Leadership Institute

Japan Peace Leadership: Reflection

My time in Hiroshima was my favorite part of the trip. There is so much history everywhere in the city and lots happening on the side of peace. Having the opportunity to learn about what happened from multiple different perspectives was incredible. One event, in particular, stood out to me: the one-man play, Living with Father. The actor acted as both father and daughter, the latter surviving the bombing with the former perished. I was blown away by the intimate look we had into the life of a survivor; though the play itself was fictional, it is based in reality. The raw emotion that the actor had as he switched between father and daughter was powerful. The story he wove was one of past trauma, survivor’s guilt, and mental illness. Despite the language barrier, I was moved to tears by the end of his performance. 

We also had the opportunity to take a bike tour of the city with two English-speaking guides. We explored Hiroshima Peace Park, Shukkeien garden, and other historic landmarks around the city. I really enjoyed learning about the city as we cruised around on bicycles, traveling much faster than if we were to walk. We stopped at a Shinto shrine, and we learned how to conduct ourselves: how to enter, how to wash one’s mouth and hands, and how to pray. That cultural experience would come in handy later when we visited Nara, home of Japan’s largest Buddha. The bike tour provided for us a little taste of everything there was to do in Hiroshima: learn about peace initiatives, explore its history, sightsee, and take part in cultural practices. It was an excellent way to wrap up our last full day in the city.

By, Jessica Kosticak

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