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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dream Island Park: Lucky Dragon No. 5

Photo and text copyright 2008 by Armand Vaquer

Yume no Shima ('Dream Island'): Lucky Dragon No. 5

Located in Tokyo's industrial Koto ward bordering Tokyo Harbor, Yume no Shima Koen (Dream Island) “is a splash of freshness in a landscape of gargantuan blank-faced warehouses between which runs an endless convoy of trucks and vans.” It is located in the Koto ward.

Yume no Shima began life as a landfill and dumping ground of old boats, but was rescued from this fate in 1972 when it was decided to make it into a park. It is now a verdant space covered mainly with eucalyptus trees and enjoyed by strollers, sketchers, picnickers, sunbathers, and anyone else seeking refuge from the bustle. Between the Park – reached by a bridge – and the mainland is a yacht marina.

The Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall (Lucky Dragon No. 5), houses the fishing boat that was bombarded with lethal doses of radiation in 1954 when the US tested the hydrogen bomb ‘Bravo’ on Bikini Atoll, despite the ship being 60km outside the prohibited zone. Almost 1000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombs, it destroyed the health of the crew, burning many of them horribly, and eventually sent several to an early grave. The ship is now a symbol of the anti-nuclear testing movement and was an inspiration for Godzilla. It is very impressively housed in an almost church-like structure and is accompanied by informative and often saddening displays. See G-FAN #80 for details of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 exhibit.

(The Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall is open 9.30am-4pm every day except Monday. Admission free. English pamphlet available for 100 yen.)

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