Connecting the world through guided tours
Hiroshima Peace Volunteers tell the reality of the atomic bombings to many people who visit the Peace Memorial Park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum from all over the world. We interviewed Mr. TSUJI Seiji and Ms. MATSUMOTO Manami, who are sharing Hiroshima’s experiences with visitors.
What I want to pass on through guided tours
Matsumoto: In order to make it easier for visitors to understand the reality of the atomic bombing, I show them photos showing how people were living at that time. Even though a single atomic bomb instantly deprived of their daily lives, Hiroshima city has since been reconstructed. I hope that Hiroshima’s history will serve as a role model for countries that are now burned down in the war.
Tsuji: The exhibits at the Peace Memorial Museum convey the damage caused by heat, blast, and radiation emitted by the atomic bomb, as well as the atrocity and inhumanity of nuclear weapons, through the relics of atomic bomb victims and photo panels.
In 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted with the support of 122 UN member states, which accounts for over 60% of UN member states. However, the Japanese government does not support the treaty and refuses to sign or ratify it. As the only country to have suffered atomic bombings, I am engaged in volunteer activities with the hope that Japan will take leadership in the elimination of nuclear weapons.
How did people react to their tours, and how did people feel?
Matsumoto: As visitors actually see the exhibits and listen to my explanations, they think that nuclear weapons are not good, even if they come from countries that possess nuclear weapons. None of them I guided claimed they still believed nuclear weapons were necessary. I hope many people will feel this way after visiting Hiroshima.
Tsuji: When I first started volunteering, I had an opportunity to give a guided tour to junior high school students from the United States. After the tour, the school teacher gave me a hug, saying, “I am sorry that our country did such a terrible thing. We need to spread Hiroshima’s experiences. There is a big difference between what we learned about the damage caused by the atomic bombing and what the museum says on that. It’s necessary to have all people including family members, friends and people in charge of national affairs such as any presidents visit the museum.” I became very confident that if I speak with all my heart, even people of the United States dropping the atomic bombs understand the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons.
Matsumoto: I don’t give my opinion to the guests during my tours, but the only thing I ask is, “Have you studied the atomic bombing of Hiroshima at school?” Many of them reply, “I studied, but only a little.” I feel that it is important for us to convey the reality of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima through guided tours.
What we can do from Hiroshima to the future
Tsuji: After finishing talking about the reality of the atomic bombings and the world situation surrounding nuclear weapons in the peace education course for elementary school students, I ask them to tell their stories to their families. Then the children say, “I will tell everyone.” I feel that they have understood the importance of the abolition of nuclear weapons, and lasting peace. That’s the sense of accomplishment of peace learning activities. We should aim for the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting peace for the children of the next generation.
Matsumoto: When I give guided tours, some people are surprised to see that such a young person as me guides them. People say, “This is how Hiroshima’s experiences can be passed on to the next generation.” But now, I believe it’s my generation that has to pass on the baton to the next younger generation.
Mr. Tsuji has been calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Ms. Matsumoto hands down the reality of the atomic bombing to the next generation. What lies at the bottom of their hearts is their strong desire to continue calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and lasting world peace. Through the volunteer activities, they are conveying the heart of Hiroshima to people around the world.
Born in 1942 in Hiroshima Prefecture, he joined Toyo Kogyo Co. Ltd. (later Mazda) in 1960. After retiring in 2002, he has been working as a Peace Volunteer since around 2003, a Peace Lecturer and an A-bomb Legacy Successor.
Born in 1989 in Hyogo Prefecture, she graduated from Hiroshima City University in 2011 and started working in Hiroshima. She has been engaged in Peace Volunteer activities since 2017.
Hiroshima Peace Volunteers
For individuals, families, and groups of 10-15 people, Hiroshima Peace Volunteers offer guided tours in the museum as well as in and around the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Reservation is recommended.
For details, please visit the following website.
http://hpmmuseum.jp/modules/info/index.php?action=PageView&page_id=58&lang=eng (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum’s website)
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