Mourning and Ming

Nicholas Quirke was saddened to be starting a day on 31 May 20202 that would be ushering the end of his sojourn in Nanjing to a close. .He still had some activities planned to make the most of the last few hours of his visit as it was unlikely that he would ever return though it was definitely an melancholy outlook to match his mood. After breakfast and packing bags they travelled by subway to The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders they were there for the 8.30am opening time and had to join an already long queue. From the outside the magnitude of the buildings and sculptures against the grey skies provided a suitably sombre and anguished opening to what turned out to be a lesson in the cruelty of mankind, and there was no doubt in his mind that this was going to be an emotional journey. Over 300,000 died in the invasion by Japanese forces and this figure which appeared repeatedly was burned into the memory on entering the hall with an alphabetical list of all the people who were victims of the occupation and a wall of photographs of the innocent lost in the massacre. The emotional impact of seeing these face was immeasurable and he could barely speak when he saw a wall of Illuminated photographs from 2017 of Survivors and noted that in the intervening years, where an individual had died their light had been extinguished. The vision of a wall in darkness, when all those souls had finally left and the last of the witnesses to another example of human brutality had shut their eyes for eternity to the horror, filled him with an overwhelming grief. The remainder of the memorial was given up to the story of the massacre, told in photographs and testimony off the eyewitnesses and participants. His heart jumped a beat when he read a Japanese soldier writing of his compulsion to cheer and shout with joy when a Fleet of boats occupied by fleeing Chinese was stopped in its tracks by an explosion of gunfire. Sickened, when he saw the severed head of man stuck on a post with a cigarette butt stuffed between his dead lips for a joke. He knew that he could never dehumanise a people to the extent that the Nazi’s in Europe and the Japanese in Nanjing had. Unbelievably the reign of terror of the Japanese in China came to and end for themselves in Yet another hideous and inhuman act with the decimation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atom bomb. Cruelty begets cruelty and there are never, ever any winners. Nations living in shame for the acts of their ancestors. He sincerely hoped the lessons of these momentous events had been learned but doubted human nature would ever rise above its disgusting base instincts for self preservation. He was exhausted by their journey through the memorial hall and was relieved to be heading towards the Yuejiang Tower on the top of Shizishan (Lion Mountain). Despite being wearied by the morning Mourning, seeing the tower which marks the formation in 1360 of the reign of the Ming Dynasty and though Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang ordered the build of the 7 tiered Yuejiang Tower on top of the mountain and wrote the Note in person, it was built first time and opened to the outside world in 2001 with its distinct style of Ming Dynasty and classical royal makings. The temperature was now very high and the climb was tiring but the views from the top were worth the effort though sadly the Yangtze River was shrouded in a mist. Drained of energy they headed back to the hotel area to get some lunch but the restaurant they located was so popular they had to wait 50 minutes to eat. A takeaway at the hotel and then the train journey home. The time again passed incredibly quickly though the views on return journey were of the east and really were more impressive than he had experienced on the journey down where he was looking to the west. A poor internet connection and problems with the GoPro meant he would have to delay posting the blog but he was safely returned to Beijing and after unpacking they relaxed and watched the chilling ‘I See You’, which alerted him to the disturbing notion of Phrogging, which was not a thought he wanted in his head before retiring for the night.


  1. I’m impressed, Nick, that you could get through a memorial to one of the worst episodes in humanity’s long catalogue of barbarism. I can’t look at your pictures, I’m afraid… I saw some of the massacre and rape once and they will remain in a corner of my mind labelled ‘Be warned’. For that reason, I won’t be looking up that new word, either! Sometimes, it’s quite a skill to remain hopeful. xxxx

    1. I think the art that is generated by horror can be quite uplifting, I confess to being dragged down by the visual representations, beautiful as they were. On the other hand, I have some uninteresting ancient Chinese Images for you. But then I guess that is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. 😂😂😂

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