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Hiroshima On The 75th Anniversary

A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Japan

Since August 6 marks the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, I thought this week might be a nice time to talk about our trip to Hiroshima back in 2016. I fell off blogging when we returned and never got around to writing about this trip. (I missed telling you about so many things!) We spent a few days in the city and visited the major World War II sites, including the A-Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum. Hiroshima had been on our list for a few years before we went, but we put it off because, well, we knew it would be depressing. Naoto visited the city when he was in grade school and we both knew it was going to be a sobering experience. Boy was it ever. But, Hiroshima is so much more than the bomb sites. We found it to be a vibrant city with a lot of beauty tucked among the sober sites of war. I can’t imagine living in a place where most of the world only knows you for something tragic.

It was pouring on the day we decided to visit the Peace Park and Museum…fitting for the mood of the day. The first thing we saw when we got off the streetcar was the A-Bomb Dome, the remains of a building that was near the epicenter of the bomb. Originally, this was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The bomb exploded about 1600 feet away from the building, but about 1900 feet overhead. The interior of the building was completely destroyed by fire and everyone inside died instantly, but the walls and the steel dome frame remained after the fires.

When we went, the azaleas were blooming so beautifully and the contradiction between the vibrant, lively color and this battered building that has stood pretty much unchanged* since 1945 was quite jarring. And, while the area was pretty busy with people milling about, around the A-Bomb Dome, it was practically silent. No one spoke above a whisper.

*Japan is working to preserve the site to the exact “state of destruction” after the bombing. It is a challenge because age and weather are causing deterioration of the building and they need to discreetly protect it from earthquakes.

The Aioi Bridge connects the A-Bomb Dome to the Peace Park (pictured above.)

Here is the view of the A-Bomb Dome from the other side.

In the Peace Park, there are special memorials to the many victims of the bombing and the war and a couple museums. Here’s Naoto ringing the peace bell.

This is the Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students. The Japanese government “mobilized” students to take part in the war efforts, especially once Japan was facing defeat. Students were “drafted” to work in factories making uniforms and bullets and to work in fields to help with food production. Over 10,000 students were killed by the bombings (atomic and otherwise) during the war.

These huge plaques by the memorial show students working in the field and in a factory contributing to war efforts.

This is the Children’s Peace Monument. Did you ever read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes? Sadako’s classmates and children all over Japan raised money for this monument in honor of her and all the children who died because of the atomic bomb and its aftermath. That is Sadako at the top, holding a wire crane.

A perfect bronze crane hangs from a bell on the underside of the monument.

Surrounding the monument are booths that house paper cranes and artwork sent by children from all over the world. Folding 1000 paper cranes feels like a hopeful classroom project, doesn’t it?

This is the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall. This was incredibly somber place, meant to memorialize all of the souls lost that day and to share the personal stories of the victims and the survivors. On the roof (which is ground level, as the memorial in underground) there is a clock that is frozen at 8:15, the time of the bomb. In the Hall of Rememberance, there is a panoramic recreation of Hiroshima, made with 140,000 tiles, the number of people who died in the attack. Audio recordings of stories from survivors brought me to tears here.

This is the main memorial to the victims. The saddle is meant to shelter the victims’ souls in the empty tomb below. On it reads, “please rest in peace, for [we/they] shall not repeat the error.” (The language is left ambiguous so the victims could be memorialized without making the issue political/blaming the US for the bomb or blaming Japan for pushing the war to the brink of destruction.)

The memorial was designed so it frames the Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome.

You can see the Peace Flame a bit better here. The flame was lit in 1964 and will be lit until the threat of nuclear war is eliminated.

Lastly, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Here we saw the history of Hiroshima from before the war and after, as well as the massive destruction caused by the bomb. I didn’t take many pictures inside–just the one below–because it was so somber and there was so much to learn. It was honestly overwhelming. (I haven’t felt so overwhelmed in a museum since I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in college…) This model was so shocking…to see how far the reach of the bomb was.

I took a picture of Sadako’s cranes, which are preserved in a climate controlled dome inside the Peace Memorial Museum. The cranes are so, so tiny…the largest ones are about the size of a quarter. It’s so hard to imagine a real little girl folding these tiny cranes, knowing she was dying.

My blog post does not do the city and the memorials justice, but I am so thankful to have witnessed it and I wish I had shared it here sooner. President Obama visited Hiroshima the month after we did. He was the first sitting President to visit the city. I understand that the relationship between the United States and Japan regarding the atomic bombs is fraught with challenges, but man, those challenges aren’t going away without a hard look at history and the destruction of war. I remember that there was so much controversy around whether Obama would apologize or not…the risks of offending American veterans, the risks of offending Japan.

Obama’s speech at Hiroshima was, to me, one of his best. (You can read the transcript here on the New York Times site.) I’ll leave you with his words.

That is why we come to this place. We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry. We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow.

Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

And then a bit later…

That is why we come to Hiroshima. So that we might think of people we love. The first smile from our children in the morning. The gentle touch from a spouse over the kitchen table. The comforting embrace of a parent. We can think of those things and know that those same precious moments took place here, 71 years ago.

Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done.

The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.

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13th Anniversary

Naoto and I celebrated our 13th anniversary on Sunday. It was such a perfect weather day–60s and sunny. spent the morning on the balcony opening our gifts and drinking coffee and then we went to the West Loop for brunch. Three cheers for our gift wrapping this year! Naoto’s gift came in a huge box, so I had to use roll wrap for it. I was able to fold some tucks into the wrapping so I had a little pocket for the wooden card I gave him. And Naoto used this lovely gold and yellow handmade paper for my gifts. He’s come a long way in his wrapping skills. The thirteenth anniversary gifts are textile and lace. I gave Naoto a pillow made with Japanese sashiko fabric. I think he really liked it. And he gave me an Irish table runner and some Irish tea, Barry’s Black, (which Presley’s head is conveniently blocking above.) We went to Saint Lou’s Assembly for brunch. We got there just as the kitchen was closing, so we were able to squeeze in our order and then enjoy leisurely cocktails and peanut butter & jelly soft serve after our meal. The cocktails were amazing, and the atmosphere was very casual and fun. We are looking forward to going back for dinner and frosé outside once the weather warms up again. After brunch, we stopped in Open Books right across the street. (Naoto was very into this Edward Hopper book.)Since we ate such a late lunch and didn’t want to venture out again, we made a mini cheese platter for ourselves and had a little happy hour on the newly lit balcony instead of going out to dinner. We drank yuzu & soda cocktails and finished out the day wrapped in blankets. I’m so thankful for such a gorgeous day, and for thirteen years with this guy.

 

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12th Anniversary Gifts

japanese paper gift wrap Every year, Naoto and I exchange gifts based on our anniversary year. (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before…) We use this list as our guide, just to keep it consistent. Some years, we are spot on, and other years we leave things open to interpretation. I follow the modern gift guide for Naoto and he follows the traditional for me. The modern gifts for the twelfth anniversary are silk or linen. So I bought Naoto a linen shirt and a chef’s hat. I wrapped his gift in some paper from a shop in Kyoto. (It’s their shop paper that they wrapped our purchases in. It’s been in my paper hoard since…2015?) There was a Kyoto link in our gift-giving this year, as you will see. I think this proves that we are both itching to go back to Japan again. chef's hat, naoto's 12th anniversary giftSadly, the chef’s hat was too small…even for me! But the shirt fit nicely and there’s a new, larger hat on its way. vintage brooch, blue stones, fireworks brooch My gift was supposed to be pearls, but Naoto found this vintage “fireworks” brooch and I love it. Pearls are lovely, but really, I have some pearl earrings (from our wedding) and a necklace (from Naoto’s Hawaiian host mom) and I think that’s plenty of the most fragile “gems” on earth, so this was a good substitution. kyoto gin, ki-no-ri distilleryAnd he gave me gin from a distillery in Kyoto! We’re finally opening it tonight so I’ll have a full report soon. Stay tuned.

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LWA 10th Anniversary Toast

Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoRight after returning home from LA, the Letter Writers Alliance ladies hosted a 10th Anniversary toast at Greer in Chicago. White Oak Tavern, chicagoNaoto and I made a date of it and ate dinner in the neighborhood. We enjoyed incredible cocktails and a fantastic dinner at White Oak Tavern, a few blocks away from Greer. Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoAt Greer, we toasted the LWA with sparking wine and milled around shopping and talking. Donovan shared all of her favorites from the shop and she and Kathy introduced us to a new-to-me paper that works with both fountain pens and other pens (which I’ll share in a future post.) Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary toast, Greer ChicagoIn addition to the local crowd, two of Donovan and Kathy’s faraway friends came to town for the party and one LWA member came from Champaign, Illinois (about 140 miles away!!) As you know, I always love a letter writing crowd. The people and the magical atmosphere of Greer made for a fine night.

Cheers to the next 10, LWA!

P.S. Thanks to Naoto for taking pictures!

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Letter Writers Alliance 10th Anniversary Party

cake, letter writers alliance 10th anniversary, paper pastries, LWAinLALast month Naoto surprised me with a trip to Los Angeles for the Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary party hosted by Margaret from Paper Pastries. Margaret and I have been pen pals for a few years now but we’d only met briefly at Ex Postal Facto. So I was really looking forward to seeing her again and meeting her sweet family. The trip exceeded my expectations. There wasn’t a ton of time for sight seeing (especially since my Friday was cut short thanks to flight delays, womp womp) but I loved the time I spent with Margaret and celebrating ten years of writing with the LWA.Los Angeles City Hall viewLos Angeles City Hall mailbox

On Friday afternoon, Margaret took me to the top of City Hall for a view of LA. Then we shopped around Little Tokyo. Chicago doesn’t have a Japanese neighborhood so it was such a treat to go to these little shops and restaurants. We haven’t planned our 2017 trip to Japan yet, so I’m feeling a little Japan withdrawal so it was great to immerse myself in the cuteness of Little Tokyo. I bought some stickers and a fuurin, which is a Japanese wind chime. (I’ve been wanting one for Tanabata next month. I’ll show you soon!)

Honeymee, Little Tokyo Los AngelesWe also had Honeymee which was amazing and is making me rethink my summer treats. It’s a special soft serve that comes topped with a real honeycomb. Seriously, what a combination! It was so good and worth the sticky hands that followed.

Poketo, LA, stationery and home goodsPoketo, LA, stationery and home goodsI also got to go to Poketo which has been on my list for some time. I only bought some greeting cards but I just love their style. ​

On Saturday morning I went to brunch with Margaret, her husband Tony, and their adorable daughter Ellis. (Sadly no pictures of this…)

Museum of Neon Art, Glendale, CAclayton plumbers at the MONA in Glendale, CA Pep Boys at Museum of Neon Art japanese katakana, neon, neon art, museum of neon art, monaThen I killed time at the Museum of Neon Arts in Glendale. It was the smallest museum ever, but it was packed with neon signs and modern art. I liked the old neon signs the best but I was smitten with the Japanese katakana in the last piece above. (It says “neon” and was made for an art installation in Japan in 1998.) donovan and kathy, letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake, paper pastriesletter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake

On Saturday afternoon, a few dozen people showed up at Paper Pastries for the official Letter Writers Alliance anniversary party and letter writing social.  letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CA letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CAI shopped, I wrote a few postcards, I chatted, I drank champagne punch, and I ate the most delicious cake ever–white cake with white frosting and COVERED in festive sprinkles. It was perfect. It was so amazing to see people come from far and wide to celebrate letter writing! The letter writing community is so diverse and friendly!

bubble martini Clifton's cabinet of curiosities After the party we all went out for dumplings and drinks which was the perfect ending for a day with pen pals who’ve become true friends.in-n-out burgerin-n-out burger

On Sunday my flight left pretty early so I just had time to finish some postcards and eat an In-and-Out burger, my first. (It was good…I didn’t get the fries because it was 10:30AM.) Burbank Airport, Bob Hope AirportWhew…it was a whirlwind trip. Now I’m home and looking forward to the NEXT LWA party, tomorrow night at Greer!

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Kyoto Part 3: Our Anniversary Lunch

IMG_3181Would it be weird to start blogging about my 2015 trip again? Maybe? I’m going to write anyway. I’ve been going through my pictures and reminiscing about all of the fun we had last spring and I realized that I’ve never really closed the book on that trip. I have a few last things to mention about Kyoto and some new editions of Spending the Yen.

We were in Kyoto for our anniversary last year and Hisae (my sister-in-law) took us out to lunch at Yuzu-ya, a restaurant and ryokan near the Yasaka Shrine. At street level, it looks like a black storefront (pictured above) but once you go through the doorway, you see that you walk up a rocky stairway to get up to the restaurant. IMG_3174IMG_3173Once you’re there, you forget that there’s a busy street below. It’s surrounded by lush greenery and trees and feels so removed and peaceful. ambiance, Yuzuya Ryokan, Kyoto, JapanThere is traditional seating near the windows where you can appreciate the trees and fountains outside. We sat at a regular table, but we still had amazing views. IMG_3158The meal was very traditional, using locally-sourced ingredients and lots of yuzu, hence the name Yuzu-ya. (Yuzu is a Japanese citrus, in case you don’t remember me talking about it before.)  Our first course was an appetizer of traditional Kyoto-fare. As you can see, it was presented beautifully on a tray of tiny plates adorned with leaves. Each bite was so different in taste and texture but it all worked together perfectly. IMG_3161Next, we had smelt grilled alongside bamboo leaves on a tiny table-top grill. IMG_3162(It was looking at me.) On the side was a yuzu sauce. I picked off as much meat as I could, but Naoto finished it off for me. (He ate every last bit, including the eye and the bones!)Then we had porridge with rice and fish and egg and chives, again cooked table-side and finished with a squeeze of yuzu. IMG_3167It was incredible. dessert, mochi, Yuzuya Ryokan, Kyoto, JapanThe dessert course was green tea and a brown sugar mochi. A simple but delicious way to end the meal.

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Oak Park Post Office 80th Anniversary Celebration

  
A quick reminder, if you live in the Oak Park, IL area and want to join in on the party for the Oak Park Post Office’s 80th Anniversary, it’s happening tomorrow, Saturday, August 29th, from 10am-2pm. There will be popcorn and giveaways and a tour of the gorgeous building and a special postmark…lots of postal fun. And regular postal business will be happening too, so buy some stamps, mail your packages, snag a passport or a money order. I’m furiously writing a stack of postcards to mail out tomorrow. Write, write, write! 

Anniversary in Kyoto

 

 Naoto and I are spending our 9th anniversary together in Kyoto. Hisae (my sister-in-law) met up with us here and spent the day with us and took us to eat a traditional Kyoto lunch. It’s been a nice, slower paced break from Tokyo, but we are trying to pack a lot into our few days here before heading back to Tokyo on Thursday, so no rest for the weary! 

Our 8th Anniversary

naoto in chicagoYesterday Naoto and I celebrated eight years together. We both had the day off, so the morning involved a whole lot of relaxing, gift exchanges and, of course, coffee.Naoto and his alarm clockIt was rainy, but we sat out on the balcony to eat breakfast and exchange gifts. According to the Anniversary Gifts by Year (which we have been following all along), the eighth anniversary gifts are pottery (traditional) and linens (modern). I got Naoto a fancy new alarm clock that will hopefully wake him up with light and bird tweets. Not a theme gift, but he is a serial snooze pusher and I’m hoping this alarm clock helps make mornings a little bit easier for all of us. Naoto and spoon rest from Circa CeramicsAnd, for the “pottery” theme, I bought him a cat spoon rest from Chicago’s Circa Ceramics. It will add the perfect amount of whimsey and usefulness to our kitchen counter. vintage table runnerNaoto got me a new juicer (the kind I used at North Shore’s cocktail class) and this amazing vintage table runner. It’s currently residing on our dining room table. I’m in love with it. lunch at Little Goat DinerOnce the rain stopped, we headed into the city for no real reason. On the way, we decided to go to Little Goat Diner for lunch. You can see our entirely healthy meal above…we had to push back our dinner reservations because we were so full. (Oh, and that’s a Ol’ Blue cocktail above: bourbon, blueberry jam, benedictine and lime…go get it before they change the menu!) pie at Little Goat DinerOh, and there was pie…because well, chocolate cookie crust with sea salt caramel and caramelized bananas…how could we not?Chicago Wrigley building It was a teeny bit warm, but it really was a perfect day in Chicago. We walked along Michigan Avenue and lingered along the river.

Before dinner, we headed to the garden to check out our plants. (More on that later this week.) dinner at golden steerWe had a late dinner at Golden Steer, our tradition since we moved to Forest Park in 2010. As usual it did not disappoint. For the first time in the history of our relationship, Naoto could not finish all of his steak and we both ended up bringing something home. During dinner, we wrote our 2014 Summer Manifesto–simple but spectacular. (I’ll share tomorrow!)

And with that, eight years are in the books…little goat diner photo booth

 

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7th Anniversary Gifts: Copper & Desk Sets

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When Naoto & I exchange anniversary gifts, we use the traditional and modern gift ideas as guidelines. I buy or make something for Naoto from the traditional list, and he buys me something from the modern list. (I wish I could tell you what we’ve gotten for each other in year’s past, but I don’t remember all of the gifts…we should have written them down.)

So since it was our 7th anniversary I got to work with wool or copper (ah, if I only knew how to knit!) and Naoto had desk sets for me…seriously…could he have HAD an easier gift for me?! (I even have a Pinterest Board dedicated to desk stuff!)

I really like to make things for Naoto. He never has a wishlist (I married the least materialistic person on the planet.) and I like to try out new things. My first embroidery project was an anniversary gift (year two is cotton). I’ve been wanting some more art for our home and have been looking online for different mobile type ideas. Through my search, I found this tutorial from Smile and Wave for a copper pipe himmeli. I was a little bit intimidated by the project at first. I don’t make a habit of poking around the plumbing section and I’ve never cut a pipe before. And parts of the tutorial didn’t make sense to me until I actually started working with the materials. But I have to say, Rachel’s tutorial ended up being perfect. Locating the materials was the hardest part (mostly because they didn’t have the right pipe size at Menards and then Lowes put my paid order back on the shelves) but once I got started, I really enjoyed this project–so much so that I plan to make a few more. I’d love to have a little cluster of them with a plant or two in the corner of the bedroom. I’m going to make that happen. (Because one looks lonely and ridiculous.)

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I used a slightly different pipe than Rachel used. Because Lowe’s put my original order back on the shelves (I guess that was a happy accident), I had a chance to poke around the copper pipe section and I found a skinnier pipe–1/4″ Type OD. I have no idea what that means, but it’s skinnier than the 1/4″ Type L (even though they are both 1/4″…don’t ask me, I’m not a plumber). It worked like a charm. Also, it was very satisfying to cut the pipes with the little pipe cutter. It took some practice and some patience. (First I smooshed the end of the pipe because I was too impatient and tightened things too quickly. Then, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere as I turned the pipe cutter round and round, but then one last little twist and the pipe was cut–like magic.) I think the whole project took around an hour and the hardest part was threading the twine through and then getting it all lined up at the end. Mine is quite imperfect, but I hope to get better as I make a couple more. I think Naoto liked it. (Or is that his what-the-heck-is-this-well-she-made-it-so-I’d-better-smile face?)

IMG_2288And I know Presley finds it quite intriguing…

DSC_0051(Maybe hanging it at the side of the bed was a bad idea??)

DSC_0005For my gift, Naoto got this sweet wooden cat pencil holder and this planner from Paper & Type. I think I’m going to use the planner for scheduling blog posts because I don’t want to wait until 2014 to put it to use! My Letter Ledger is from Paper & Type and I just think her products are so unique and useful. Thanks for the lovely choices, Naoto!

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