Radiation of the Not-so Lucky Dragon No. 5

We had a bit of a shorter day today, but an interesting one nonetheless. We visited the Daigofukuryumori Exhibition Hall (a museum), showcasing the 第五福竜丸 (daigofukuryumori; Lucky Dragon No. 5) tuna trawler that was heavily irradiated during hydrogen bomb testing off of Bikini Atoll on March 1, 1954. The museum contained objects actually from the ship, including the ship itself and its engine, along with other related documentation such as letters written by family members of the crew. Additionally, the museum also provided information on nuclear weapons testing. Most of the descriptions and panels were in Japanese, though there were some cards in English. It wasn’t so much the grammar that gave me trouble (for instance, many of the panels used the passive form, either to convey suffering at the hands of nuclear testing or as a sort of “reporting” form…or perhaps both), but rather there was a lot of kanji I wasn’t too familiar with.

I thought it was really interesting going through the museum, small though it was, and seeing photos and actual objects from the time. The Lucky Dragon No. 5 wasn’t the only ship irradiated, nor was March 1, 1954 the only time atomic weapons were tested in that area; this is arguably the most well-documented or press-heavy incident. I was also intrigued by how ocean currents also impacted or spread radiation; there was a map I think showing sites of known radiation contamination and they followed the trajectories of currents almost perfectly.

We ended the day back at Waseda University with a discussion on both today’s and yesterday’s readings and visits. It was a good chance to reflect on what we’ve been learning and seeing the past several days, especially since we for once had an opportunity to do so as a group. Michael also brought up the idea of reflecting on the trip as a whole, midway, and what it means to us, which I also thought would be helpful and interesting.