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Emotions Running High – Visiting Hiroshima, Japan

I recently returned from a visit to Japan on a wonderful guided tour with G Adventures. Upon returning home, everyone has asked me my favorite part of the trip. Normally I need a bit of time after I travel to truly asses what my favorite aspect has been.

However this time, almost without hesitation, I’ve answered “visiting the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.”

This has been met with some surprise.

Obviously there were many, many incredible experiences. I chanted with Buddhist monks at a Monestary in Koyasan, walked through a beautiful traditional Zen temple, and saw the mausoleum of Kobo Daishi, who is believed to have been mediating since the year 806.

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But the most intense experience was definitely the privilege and opportunity to pay my respects at Hiroshima. To acknowledge the tremendous and horrific loss of innocent lives at the hand of my country. To not look away from the gruesome photographs and exhibits in the museum. To bow my head over the river where thousands flung themselves, in effort to stop the burns and pain, and drowned.

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At risk of turning this post overtly political, in one week the United States will elect our next president. One of our candidates is overly enthusiastic about the idea of nuclear weapons. And I can’t help but feel if he were to take one look at the images of tattered clothes, faces blown off, radiation burns, and read the stories of side effects permeating entire generations, and take a moment to quietly sit among the spirits of so many horrifically lost lives — he might rethink his trigger happy ideals.

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At Hiroshima, I witnessed an elderly white gentleman humbly purchase a small paper peace crane from an elderly Japanese man. It was a powerful moment and one I’ll never forget. I watched the acts of war be silently forgiven as they quietly made the exchange.

Visiting Japan was special for so many reasons. But for me, the emotional walk through Hiroshima Peace Park will remain front of mind for a long time.

 

 

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~ Keep Exploring, Historians

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Finishing the Hat – My Encounter With George Seurat

This weekend while on a trip to Chicago, I ventured into the Art Institute. Wandering through, finding my museum pace, drinking in all the incredible works, listening to their stories and backgrounds through my handheld “I’m a tourist” device, and fully entering the zone when suddenly Sunday in the Park by George Seurat appeared before me.

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Seurat’s magnificent piece was a groundbreaking moment in pointillism, but I and many others know it from another groundbreaking work: Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George.”

The musical, starring Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin in the original cast, tells of the paintings creation – while simultaneously offering a discourse on the act of creation itself. Creativity and the pressure to “come up with something new” are major themes throughout.

Seeing the original work in the flesh, so to speak, was unexpectedly moving. The musical touched me deeply and I had the image of Sunday in the Park as my computer desktop for years. It serves as a reminder of the importance of finishing creative works. As a classic INFP, I have a lot of creative ideas but barely finish anything; or my perfectionism gets in the way and I produce but never publish.

Sondheim’s George Seurat feels his artistic vision is compromised by its presentation to the public  – if it simply stays in a state of incompletion is can remain his – away from critics prying eyes. By Finishing the Hat he thereby exposes himself to others opinions, but also to their praise.

Keeping your work to yourself is perfectly valid, but only if it’s for the right reasons. And it’s important to make a choice though the choice may be mistaken, the choosing was not,” as Bernadette’s “Dot” character (get it? Dot? Point? Pointillism? Genius) gently reminds him.

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The experience of finally meeting the real Seurat was profound – as the musical and reality collided to become one in my brain. What a moment!*

~ Keep Exploring Historians!

*(And for my really nerdy Sondheim friends, yes that is an Into the Woods reference).

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Where Shall We Explore Today?

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We hold the key

Welcome to the Exploring Historian! I’m so glad you’ve found your way here. I’m Samantha and this is my journey to explore the world through travel, art, and history – three pillars that I hope will bring us on an enlightening and enjoyable journey.

On this blog you will find many different things, but ultimately it’s a place where exploration & discovery reign.

Join the journey!