Sunday, October 2, 2011

Going to Nanjing & Massacre Museum (10/2/2011)

Sunday, October 2, 2011
Thinking there might be fewer travelers today, we took the train to Nanjing. Nanjing, meaning "South Capital," first became a capital in 229 CE. It was the capital on and off under six dynasties, and intermmittently for the Republic of China until 1949.
We missed our 8:00 AM train, as we did not anticipate having to change trains on the Metro, nor dashing the entire length of the Hongqiao Railway Station. That meant we had to spend time in lines at the ticket counter to trade the tickets for the next available train.
Had time to photograph a squat toilet:
Left Shanghai at 10:00 AM on the fast train to Nanjing.
This trip was sort of a treasure hunt. We had some clues to find the attractions and restaurants, but not always enough!
Mystery number one was the location of the Nanjing South Railway Station which was not where we thought it would be on the map. Turns out there is a CRH (China Fast Train) South Railway Station that is farther south than the regular South Railway Station.
A Nanjing Metro blue plastic token:
Checked in to the hotel, had lunch, then off to the Memorial for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre. Founded in 1985 and expanded in 1995. It was probably appropriate that it was raining. Outside the Memorial stood this very tall sculpture:
Titled "Family Ruined," its accompanying poem reads:
   "Never returns the son killed
   Never returns the husband buried alive
   Sorrow drowns the wife raped
We were herded into a large crowd and inched along a row of sculptures, a series called "Fleeing from Calamity" by Wu Weishan, based on photos in the museum. Each of the sculptures includes a short poem inscribed in its base as noted below each photo.
"Seeking Survival:"
   "December 13, 1937,
   Began the inhuman massacre!
   Bare-handed civilians,
   The only hope to survive"
A man and his wife:
   "My dear poor wife!
   The devil raped you, killed you...
   I'm right after you!"
Carrying grandmother:
   "A thirteen-year old carrying his grandmother who has died in a bomb,
Man with his mother:
   "My dear mother in the eighties,
   Hurry up! Run away from the bloody hands!"
Woman in agony:
   "Never will a holy soul bear the humiliation of the devils!
   Only to die!
   Only to die!
   Only death can wash the filth away!"
Crying toddler:
   "Frigidity and horror have frozen this crying baby!
   Poor thing
   Not knowing mum has been killed
   Blood, milk and tears
   Have frozen, never melting"
A relief sculpture by the same artist:
Titled "Screams of the Souls of the Dead," it is one of two parts seen when entering the Memorial, but we were hurried onward by the guards and Kent was being asked to have his picture taken with a young Chinese guy.
Next we stood in line to enter the Exhibition Hall/Museum, while in the middle of the huge Memorial Square:
Somber black wall and gray gravel.
First inside the museum was a look at a bombed street scene:
The Nanjing Massacre, also called the Rape of Nanjing, took place in the winter of 1937-38 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Japan sought domination of China with its vast resources (raw materials, food and labor). This war merged into World War II and ended with the surrender of Japan in 1945. At the start, after incursions at Beijing and Shanghai, the Japanese Army attacked the Republic of China's capital of Nanjing. They are reported to have asked for a surrender, threatening annihilation if refused. Receiving no response, they bombarded the city and on December 13, 1937, the Japanese Army entered the city. For weeks after, the Japanese soldiers engaged in rape, murder, theft, and arson. Historically, according to the Museum, the Japanese Army was known from previous wars for its policy of taking no prisoners . For that reason, prior to the attack, the Chinese engaged in the "scorched earth" policy, destroying anything that the enemy could use. Despite the earlier evacuation of civilians and later the retreat of the Chinese army, enough people remained for a death count of 300,000.
Memorial Hall with projected faces and a ersatz eternal flame:
No photos allowed in the museum. There is plenty of information to be found on the internet if you are interested, but be warned that the photos are not for the faint of heart.
The Exhibition Hall had a room dedicated to the foreigners who helped during the massacre, and/or witnessed and documented the event.
Another room was dedicated to the War Crimes Trial conducted by the International Military Tribunal of the Far East from 1946-1948.
Although the Chinese have not received an acceptable apology from Japan, there are many instances of individual repentance shown in the museum.
Reading Room and archives:
Back outside, we see there is still a line to enter the Exhibition Hall/Museum:
Memorial Bell/Peace Bell:
in front of the wall stating the number of victims in many languages.
Again Kent was asked to pose for a photo:
This was to happen several more times during our stay in Nanjing.
Replica of Jiangdong Men/Gate:
with a Sculpture of a severed head of a victim. The Jiangdong Gate area was one site of executions and mass burials.
Arm sculpture:
Path of bronze footprints:
of 222 witnesses/survivors.
The Poem Tablet of "Violent Snow:"
The poem by Wang Jiuxin, a military poet, is "full of indignation and accusation."
Statue of Iris Chang:
The statue was unveiled in 2007 after a wing of the museum was dedicated to her in 2005. Iris Chang, a Chinese-American, wrote the book "The Rape of Nanking" based on personal accounts, including those of her grandparents. She was working on a book about another difficult subject (Bataan Death March) when she commited suicide in 2004.
Behind the large black wall, we entered another huge square, Graveyard Square:
this one covered in river rocks, and supposedly covering the site of mass burials.
In this square, the first relief-sculpture group was titled "The Disaster:"
The second relief-sculpture was "The Massacre:"
The names of some of the vicitms:
"Site of the Mass Grave of 10,000 Corpses:"
Third relief-sculpture titled "Memorial:"
Beyond a third display of bones, there was a sort of altar, crowded with chains of origami cranes:
The real eternal flame:
Next a Meditation Room:
Into another massive square, the Peace Park/Garden:
The Wall of Victory:
A large relief-sculpture in the shape of a 'V,'' representing victory, along with a Chinese soldier blowing the bugle of victory and stepping on a steel helmet and bayonet from the invading army.
The Statue of Peace:
The Bauhinia Flower Girl:
I think this girl is mis-named, since Bauhinia is a tree, the Hong Kong Orchid tree, with purple butterfly-shaped flowers that are similar to the flowers planted behind this statue. The girl stands in front of a garden of Shikinsou or Shokatsusai/Orychophragmus violaceus. The story is that Seitaro Yamaguchi, a civilian working with the Japanese Army in 1939, collected the seeds of this flower at the base of Purple Mountain in Nanjing. He took the seeds back to Japan and he and his family propagated them throughout the country. It became known as the "Peace Flower." In 2007, the 83-year old son of Seitaro raised about $100,000 to build the Shikinsou Garden as a "symbol of prayer for peace by both the Chinese and Japanese people."
"Showing Repentance by Planting Trees:"
Since 1986, the Japan-China Association, a tree-planting group, pays an annual visit to Nanjing on behalf of the Japanese people, to express remorse for past aggression and aspiration for peace.
Peace dove cote:
Tossing coins into the bubblers:
The exit of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial was right across the street from the Nanjing Brocade Museum. Signs indicated free admittance and the blinking lights here attracted us:
After sitting a minute to rest our legs, we went through this surprise museum. The first floor had intricate silk brocade designs in bright reds and yellows, and they were for sale. Thinking we were in one of those commercial traps, we went up one floor to find ourselves in a real museum, and more.
Silk worm cocoons:
There are working looms, and they continue to make some brocades in this time-honored system:
These looms require the teamwork of two persons: the jacqard weaver works at the top of the loom determining the figured pattern, while the weaver on the ground operates the shuttle carrying the proper color of thread.
(Above photo borrowed from
The ground-level operator also uses his feet to lift the vertical frames.
The next floor had an exhibit of ethnic fabrics:
But on Caucasian dummies!
Many beautiful examples of robes and fabrics:
Ceremonial umbrellas:
We took the Metro to Shanghai Lu to look for a particular restaurant which we thought would be near the station. When we saw the street numbers, we knew we were too far away. We ended up eating dinner at a Japanese restaurant.
With all the official talk of the Chinese still being upset with Japan, you would never know it on the street.

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