Over Thanksgiving break, we headed to Japan. This was our first visit to the Land of the Rising Sun. The Solethers, some friends of ours from Jacksonville, recently relocated there, so we decided to check in on them to see how they were getting along with their new life overseas.
The husband, Jared, works for the U.S. Navy and got 3-year orders at a base located in Saesbo. Since Benjy is now a retired Navy veteran, we all have military identification cards and had access to the base. We were like kids in a candy store shopping at the commissary and exchange. The commissary is a U.S. grocery store, stocked with all the goods we miss so much and at prices even cheaper than what we remember. We stocked up on the precious goods and lugged them home in our suitcases.
After our base excursion we went grass sledding.
We did some hiking.
Took a cruise on the Pearl Queen to see the 99 Islands.
We also had the privilege of having a traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner with Jared’s co-workers. It was truly a treat to feast on fried turkey, glazed ham and all the trimmings.
Webley and Aaron are WWII buffs, so we made the 2-hour trip to Nagasaki to visit the atomic bomb museum.
This is a statue that marks the hypocenter of where the atomic bomb exploded.
150,000 people were killed in the blast. This is a monument erected to remember those who died, many of whom were women and children. The plaque on the statue shows the exact time and date of the explosion.
I’m not going to debate the wisdom or justification for the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. Surprisingly, nothing at the memorial or the museum does so either. All I know is that my heart was very heavy touring the site. It grieved me to think about all the suffering that took place on this ground.
I’ve spoken to friends who have lived and worked in Japan and they tell me that children are not really taught about World War II in school, so there is a general ignorance of Japan’s role in it. Interestingly, the atomic bomb museum was very well done and even-handed, unlike some of the other one-sided, propaganda-laden displays I have seen elsewhere. The museum did discuss Japan’s imperialistic ambitions at the time, its invasion of other Asian countries and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It made me wonder what today’s Japanese think when they visit a place like this. It was an interesting, thought provoking place and another entry in our homeschool field trip log.
Visiting with friends from back home on this side of the planet is like eating a favorite food that you haven’t had in a long time. Before you have it, you don’t really realize how much you missed it. But once you do, you savor it and appreciate every minute and it ties you over until your next hit. That’s what it was like for us visiting the Solethers. It was a rich blessing from the Lord for which we are deeply grateful.