Saturday, October 3, 2015

A City Without...

Toward the end of September 2015, my wife and I visited some friends in Japan along with a quick sight seeing from Tokyo, Kyoto to Kyushu. With the help of the excellent train network systems, we were able to take quite a few quick views of many cities and villages from the trains, even with the fast moving Shin-Kan-Sen.

Japan must be one of the few countries in the world who knows how to preserve the traditional buildings and keep them well.  With the train quick and brief window views, we heartily appreciate the efforts of the preservation.  The mostly narrow streets; the mountain sides; the yellow/green rice fields; the old roofs, sometime colorful, mostly gray and blue and the unique new high rise buildings…we took them all in with our eyes and a few times with the smart phone camera until we stopped at the city of Hiroshima.

From the view of the station of Hiroshima, we saw virtually all new buildings with only one or two old small houses.  And then we remembered what happened to the city seventy years and two months ago*.  On our way back from Kyushu to Kyoto during another brief stop at the Hiroshima station, we were quiet and solemn while a silent prayer was in my mind - a city without the old buildings

Hiroshima is a city with very few old houses but not a city without the memory.  Memory, one of the few most precious gifts with the human species, serves well among us globally and historically.

Then I remembered while we had lunch with a Taiwanese retired pastor in a suburban of the city of Tokyo just few days before.  He told us that he was somehow upset with some Taiwanese congregations, both in and out of Taiwan, began using the Mandarin instead the Taiwanese language during the worship services. “Even the Taiwanese Indigenous congregations keep their native tongues in their services,” he added.

A city without the old houses like Hiroshima can keep growing because they still have their memory, culture and tradition.  And the lives, past, present and future, are always treasured.

A people without their mother tongue, Taiwanese in this case, one wonders how far and where they can go.

P.S. While it is good and necessary to obtain Multi-language in today’s civilized world, it is sad to see that we would give up our mother tongue somehow.  Language is an important part of our culture that we were born with.  If we lose part of our culture, we lose part of ourselves as well. 

On August 6, 1945, during World War II, an American B-29 bomber dropped the world’s first deployed atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima(廣島市). The explosion wiped out 90 percent of the city and immediately killed 80,000 people; tens of thousands more would later die of radiation exposure. Three days later, a second B-29 dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 40,000 people. Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced his country’s unconditional surrender in World War II in a radio address on August 15, citing the devastating power of “a new and most cruel bomb.”

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