- Today was our last day with our host families, so it’s fitting that we got the whole day to ourselves to spend time with them.
- Everyone’s day was a little different, but for me it entailed visiting the Shukkeien Garden. Constructed in 1620, Shukkeien was built for Asano Nagaakira, a feudal lord of Hiroshima, and was meant to express a miniaturized landscape.
- What I thought most interesting about the garden was the fact that it is located in the middle of such a large city, with tall buildings surrounding it on all sides, but the second I stepped through the gates of the garden I found myself in the middle of the most beautiful and natural garden I have ever seen. Huge ponds filled with Koi were connected by tiny red bridges and surrounded by beautiful trees and other native Japanese plants. Tiny islands were scattered throughout the pond, miniature versions of the actual-size islands in Xihu (West Lake) in Hangzhou, China.
- Although the original garden was destroyed by the atomic bomb, it has been almost fully restored for people to visit. In one of the pamphlets from the garden, it mentioned that many bomb victims took refuge in the garden, and although some did not survive long enough to receive medical care, their remains are now intertwined in the Shukkeien grounds. Although it is a tragedy how they died, I think Shukkeien is probably the most beautiful final resting place there is.
- After visiting the garden, I had the opportunity to go to my host sister, Mire’s, concert at Elisabeth College of Music. The experience was really interesting to me because I was able to compare Japanese orchestras with those in America. I was blown away by the talent of the high school students in the orchestra; they sounded like a professional group. Even the middle school orchestra sounded amazing and I could not believe the students were so young.
- The concert was made up of the orchestras of many different schools, who each played separately with separate conductors. But for the finale, all of the orchestras of the different schools came together to play a song. There were so many students that they all wouldn’t fit on the stage, so some of them were playing on the balcony, some in the aisles between the chairs, and some in the pit. It was incredible to watch and a really unique experience that I’m really glad I was able to see.