This year marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ultimately led to the end of World War II. Several events aimed at commemorating the anniversary and at promoting peace were held recently in Honolulu.
The 26th annual Hiroshima Commemoration and Peace Service was held Aug. 6 fronting the Izumo Taishakyo Mission in Chinatown. Bishop Daiya Amano of the Hawaii Izumo Taishakyo conducted a purification and blessing of the Hiroshima replica bell as Rev. Jun Miyasaka explained the ceremony to the audience.
Rev. Takamasa Yamamura of the Honolulu Myohoji Buddhist Temple delivered a Buddhist message of peace and sang “Ave Maria.” Yamamura trained professionally as a tenor prior to becoming a Buddhist minister.
Roy Tamashiro, a professor and peace researcher at Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., shared a message, titled “Tribute to Hiroshima: Emanating the Gift of Peace.” Tamashiro told the audience that he visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial for the first time 50 years ago and was so moved by the experience that for the next three days, he was withdrawn and numb. “I felt the suffering, unbearable pain and injustice of it all,” he said. He added that everyone who hears of the injustices of Hiroshima and can find a solution helps the survivors. “Our hearing helps heal their hurting,” he said.
Other speakers included Dr. Paul Gracie of the Interfaith Alliance of Hawaii and the Oahu Jewish Ohana, which offered two blessings — one for people experiencing the ceremony for the first time, and the second for the atomic bomb survivors.
Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson, president of the Pacific Justice & Reconciliation Center, talked about the University of Hawai‘i’s peace studies program, which teaches peace and nonviolence.
“The sound of peace is like the sound of a well-written song. The sound of peace can carry the soul on a journey to a safe and peaceful place,” said Patterson.
“Seventy years. We must look forward to 70 more years of peace and make our world nonviolent, so the sound of peace must be heard.” UH students in the center’s program followed his comments by chanting the word “peace.”
Additionally, Mie Oishi, a teen participant in the “Let’s Get Together” Hiroshima and Honolulu Youth Exchange Program, which is facilitated by the YMCA of Honolulu, shared her experience of visiting the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park.
The student exchange began in 1960, following a meeting between then-Honolulu Mayor Neal Blaisdell and then-Hiroshima Mayor Shinzo Hamai. The two mayors met to strengthen international understanding and friendship and vowed to work for peace and maintain an exchange of ideas.
Each year, the two YMCAs take turns sending delegates to homestay with families of the partner-country, enabling the youths to learn, understand and appreciate themselves and others and to lead the way for world peace.
The service concluded with a performance of songs from Ohana Arts Festival & School. The song selections were from “Peace on Your Wings,” a musical based on the life of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old girl who died of leukemia as a result of the bombing on Hiroshima. Sadako went on to become an inspiration for peace worldwide.
After the singing of “Hawai‘i Aloha,” attendees were invited to ring the peace bell.