The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall was one of the attractions that I intended to visit during my stay in Nanjing, along with a list of other historical spots such as the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum, Ming City Walls and the Temple of Confucius.
I have always been fascinated with history and culture, but my interest in Chinese history was piqued after watching a drama series on Empress Wu, starring Chinese actress Fan Bing Bing (if you have yet to watch it, please do!). Nanjing is definitely one of the best Chinese cities to visit due to its rich history and culture, having been the capital of China for many years in the past.
I was amazed by how well documented the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall was. In my opinion, it is one of the best war museums I have ever visited globally.
Photography may be prohibited inside the museum but the brutality of the event was recorded through detailed accounts from survivors and powerful yet graphic images of the atrocities committed by the invading Japanese troops, including exposed remains and skeletons of the dead. Everything remains fresh in my memory till this day.
What struck me most was how the seemingly grim and solemn atmosphere transformed into one of hope for our future generations at the end; hope that peace would prevail and that mankind would learn from our mistakes and continue to step up on our peacekeeping efforts to keep our world safe and free from war.
Hopefully, Japan's march back to militarism will not jeopardize the peace and stability that we have been taking for granted all this while.
Towards the end of the tour, we walked into a meditation hall filled with candles to pray for those who lost their lives in this event.
I was deeply moved by the Chinese prayer at the end of the room. Unfortunately, I felt that while the English translation captured the gist, it didn't bring out the essence and beauty of the prayer:
Let the white bones fall asleep
Let the grieving souls rest in peace
Turn the slaughtering sword to the cast of a warning bell
May the names of the departed be engraved in history
Let the children no longer have to be in fear
Let mothers no longer shed tears
Let war be distant from all mankind
Let peace spread fully to the world.
The statue of Peace marks the end of the tour, against the backdrop of white doves taking to the skies above, leaving you in amazement and wonder as you step out of the premises feeling a sense of renewed hope.
I was just sharing on instagram (@reginachow_sg) about how grateful I am to be given the opportunity to learn more about my roots in such a fun and engaging way during my stay in Nanjing. Before I came over, I was told that there was nothing much to do or see in this city, but I am glad that this hypothesis has been proven wrong on several fronts.
Having lived here for a while now, I have come to realise that Nanjing is one of the most liveable cities in China, complete with good food, friendly people (still, please beware of pickpockets in crowded areas), and beautiful places of attraction that are steeped in history.
Don't get me wrong. I still miss home (not the haze though) because there's no place like home and I still intend to shuttle between both cities, but for now Nanjing seems like quite the perfect home away from home.
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