南京 Nanjing

We made a quick pit stop in Nanjing, and I mean quick. We were there for less than 24 hours. We stayed at the Jasmine Youth Hostel, one of Jason’s finds. Eh, 马马虎虎, which literally translates to “horse horse, tiger tiger,” but in this context, it means “just ok.” I really wanted to take a peek at Nanjing University, one of the top three universities for foreigners studying Chinese, but alas, we did not have enough time. We spent the majority of our time at the Memorial to the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre (南京大屠杀纪念管). The name is a bit deceiving because it is both a memorial and a very extensive museum commemorating the atrocities suffered by the Chinese during the Japanese invasion of Nanjing in 1937. A little diversion and a quickly paraphrased history lesson:
 
Japanese troops invaded Nanjing on December 13, 1937. What followed were the darkest 6 weeks of Nanjing’s history, as over 300,000 Chinese were bayoneted, shot, burned, drowned, beheaded, and buried alive. The city was looted and torched, and corpses were thrown into the Yangzi River (扬子江). Women suffered the most: During the first month of occupation, 20,000 cases of rape were reported in the city. Many of those who survived were tortured. A positive note: During this time, a small number of Western businessmen and American missionaries, who stayed behind when their compatriots fled after the departing Chinese government, used their privileged status as foreign nationals to create a safety zone. Around 250,000 Chinese found safe haven in 25 refugee camps inside it. The head of the safety zone was a German businessman John Rabe, chosen in part because he was a Nazi! Often described as the Oscar Schindler of China, Rabe’s initial determination to save his Siemens Chinese employees eventually took on a larger purpose as he even sheltered hundreds of Chinese women in his own backyard. His story was used as part of the premise of Zhang Yimou’s most recent film the Flowers of War. Christian Bale’s character is in fact a fabrication of John Rabe, in the form of a priest. Okay, digressing, sorry.
 
Now that you have had your history lesson, let me talk a bit about the museum. As both Dee and I have visited Yad Vashem, and I believe Dee also visited a camp, we didn’t feel the museum left such a lasting impact. This is probably most attributed to the fact that it’s not part of our ancestry. It was of course informative, as we have had little exposure to Chinese history in the American education system.  There were remains of corpses, funerary-style orchestral music piped on the grounds, giant statues of human limbs that greeted us at the entrance. There was a an outdoor exhibit, a coffin-shaped viewing hall which contained the victims’ bones, and pictures and artifacts documenting the Japanese onslaught, the massacre, and the aftermath. The final room documented the reconciliation, however tenuous, between the Chinese and Japanese. Like I previously mentioned, I have had students tell me that they can never forgive the Japanese, nor should they.
 
Ok, enough of the heavy stuff! After the museum, we wanted to head back towards the hostel, but we needed lunch first. Upon exiting the metro, lo and behold I notice a sushi restaurant with what looks to be rather authentic sushi. Dee wasn’t interested in eating sushi as her stomach was still recovering, so I gorged as she sneakily ate some mandarins. Talk about total irony! After lunch, we walked for quite some time trying to find Nanjing University. When this plan didn’t materialize, we headed back to the hostel. Finally, we headed to the train station for out bullet train ride to Shanghai. Ah, the bullet train, with speeds of up to 350km/hour, we arrived in Shanghai in under two hours. Second best train ride of the trip. You will have to wait in anticipation to hear about the Beijing to Shanghai ride. 
 
Outdoor exhibit. Not sure why it’s a cross…
300,000 looks bad in any language. 
Flowers in the hall that held the victims’ bones. 
Entrance 
Sushi: conveyor belt style, reminiscent of the sushi place in Towson that I would frequent with Angie and my mom when she would come down. 
Enjoying the bullet train

One thought on “南京 Nanjing

  1. Linda says:

    Aaaaah sushi! I really badly wanna eat sushi again! Damn! We have some nice sushi restaurants in Münster and I made sushi by myself with Janine once.. it was jummy!

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