A Sobering Visit To The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome
We saw many fascinating sites on our visit to Japan. But a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome was such a sobering reminder of the past. While I went off to see the colour and beauty of Miyajima Island, David explored this historic memorial.
The Peace Memorial Park was centred near ground zero of the atomic bomb blast. It was created in remembrance of the lives that were lost in the atomic bombing. The history of the tragedy was displayed in the hope that it will never be repeated. Every year on August 6th the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony is held in Peace Memorial Park.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome covered more than 100 thousand square metres (30 acres). It was located in the Nakajima district of Hiroshima, Japan. The Peace Memorial Park, from Aioi-bashi Bridge all the way to The Gates of Peace, was a symbol of ever-lasting peace.
Atomic Bomb Dome – A UNESCO World Heritage Site
David’s visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome started with a walk around the outside grounds.
Before the atomic bomb was dropped destroying Hiroshima, the A-bomb Dome building was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The Atomic Bomb Dome remained almost as it was just after it was severely damaged and burnt. The first atomic bomb detonated a little over 500 metres almost above it on August 6 1945.
The blast exerted 35 tons of pressure per square meter and created a fierce wind speed of 440 meters per second (almost 1,000 mph). The building absorbed the powerful explosion and heat and then burst into flames. Because the impact of the blast came almost directly overhead, curiously the thick outer walls and the steel dome escaped complete destruction.
The bombed structure conveyed the cruelty of nuclear weapons while being preserved as a peace monument. The Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The Peace Clock Tower And Peace Bell
The Peace Clock Tower Memorial was completed in 1967. On the front, the epigraph read:
“With the appearance of nuclear energy, mankind is standing at a crossroads between life or death, downfall or prosperity. Uniting the wide world with one heart …”.
“The chime of the clock tower resounding everyday at 8:15, the time when mankind received its baptism of the atomic bomb for the first time, calls out to the world for “No more Hiroshima” and we pray that the day for lasting peace may soon come to mankind.”
The Peace Bell is rung during the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony held in the park on August 6 every year.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome was a call to peace for future generations.
Memorial Tower Was Dedicated To The Mobilized Students
The Japanese government enacted the Student Labor Service Act in August 1944 because of the labour shortage. Students in middle school and higher grades were mandated to labour in places like munitions factories. Mobilized students were also set to work tearing down buildings to create fire-breaks in the event of air attacks.
The Memorial Tower was dedicated to the Mobilized Students. Upwards of ten thousand students died during the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall For The Atomic Bomb Victims
The Memorial Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims plaque read “Let all the souls here Rest In Peace for we shall not repeat the evil”.
This monument embodied the hope that Hiroshima will stand forever as a city of peace. The stone chamber in the centre contained the Register of Deceased A-bomb Victims. The inscription on the front panel offered a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims and a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war.
The spirit of Hiroshima that we experienced was a reminder about enduring grief transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.
Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound
The atomic bomb caused more than 150,000 deaths. Completed in 1955, the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound was an underground cinerarium that housed and memorialized the ashes of approximately 70,000 victims.
Being close to the hypocentre, numerous corpses were collected at the spot and cremated. The site also contained others discovered in various locations throughout Hiroshima. This included those buried or held in temples and graveyards, whose identities or surviving relatives were unknown.
A unique display was found at this spot. The “千羽鶴” or senbazuru was a group of one thousand origami paper cranes (折鶴 or orizuru) held together by strings.
An ancient Japanese legend promised that anyone who folded a thousand origami cranes would be granted a wish, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. Today the the origami crane has been transformed into an international symbol of peace. We saw origami cranes everywhere on our visit to Japan.
Children’s Peace Monument
The Children’s Peace Monument was created in 1958. It was topped by the figure of Sadako Sasaki holding a bronze crane. The monument was surrounded by orizuru (paper cranes) and Japanese origami donated from around the world.
Flame of Peace In The Pond Of Peace
The Flame of Peace was lit in 1964 in hope of a world without nuclear weapons. It will continue to burn until nuclear weapons are abolished worldwide.
The Flame of Peace was held between what looked like two hands, palms together facing skyward. Monks visited daily and offered prayers while they burned incense. Everyone should hope and pray that the flame will go out soon.
The Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims was shaped like an ancient tomb and held the names of the dead.
When we looked through Memorial Cenotaph we saw the Flame of Peace in the Pond of Peace. In the distance we saw the A-bomb Dome Memorial building along Peace Memorial Park.
The Pond of Peace was constructed 1957. It encircled the cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims and was designed to make the cenotaph seem as if it floated up out of the pond’s waters.
International Conference Center Hiroshima
In front of the International Conference Center Hiroshima is the Fountain of Prayer and Statue of Mother and Children in the Storm
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum gave visitors the historical background about the atomic bombing. Throughout the building, floors of displays dramatically presented the history of Hiroshima. Hands-on and visually the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was openly shown.
Heading Inside The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Building
David moved inside to explore more of the history of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome.
The main building was under renovation for earthquake protection so the tour went through the East building. The group entered the museum from the Entrance Hall on the first floor. And took the escalator (or elevator No.3) to the Permanent Exhibit on the third floor. The first exhibit addressed Hiroshima history.
Visitors were met with a most unique and visual display. In the centre of the room was a large acrylic projection. Shown was Hiroshima before, during and after the Atomic bomb dropped above the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
Visitors re-lived the A-bomb drop as seen from above. The room was encircled by a photographic mural of what the devastation to Hiroshima looked liked, including what is today the A-bomb Dome area.
After the almost 3D bombing exhibit, visitors watched video-taped interviews or statements from survivors.
The Danger of Nuclear Weapons
A section of the museum addressed the development and use of the Atomic Bomb. This included a hands-on media table that displayed 1/8th scale models of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”. These were the names given to the atomic bombs dropped, first on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki, Japan.
After reading about Nuclear Age and Nuclear Weapons Abolition, visitors walked down to the second floor.
Hiroshima and War
The first Danger of Nuclear Weapons exhibit allowed visitors to touch a 1:100 scale model of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before the atomic bomb destroyed it. The iconic building in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was visited today as the A-Bomb Dome.
Visitors learned more about the history, the atomic bombing and Recovery and Support of Hiroshima at the Media Table in the centre of the second floor exhibit.
Aafter the first Atomic-bomb exploded over Hiroshima, the giant mushroom cloud carried dust and soot high into the air. There it became radioactive. When it fell back to earth, it was called ‘black rain’.
First floor Special Exhibition Room
Visitors finished the tour on the main floor in the Special Exhibit Room. This space held items exposed to the atomic bombing. Photographs, clothing, a wrist watch and other items were on display. Also on main floor was the Museum Shop and Information Lounge.
The orizuru was the most classic of all Japanese origami. In Japanese culture, the wings carried souls up to paradise. Paper cranes on display were folded by the child Sadako Sasaki and made from medicine wrapping paper and the scraps.
A display showed a wrist watch stopped at 0815. This was the time the first atomic-bomb detonated over Hiroshima.
The Peace Watch was a large clock and counter that displayed the number of days since the first dropping of the A-bomb as well as the number of days since the last nuclear test.
A Moment To Pause At The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome
A visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome was a great reminder to all. It symbolized the destructive birth of the nuclear age. And was a memorial to everyone impacted by this event in history.
No visit to Japan is really complete without a stop in Hiroshima. We were a bit uncertain about visiting when we first planned our trip to Japan. But we were glad we got this stark reminder.
Have you visited to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park with A-Bomb Dome? Was it a moving reminder for you?
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It’s so chilling to think that one bomb can cause so much damage! And still world leaders threaten other countries with war so casually :(. I hope that one day the flame of peace goes out and the world thinks better of investing so much money in such destructive weapons!
Nish, It was a moving memorial and a stark reminder of the human impact of war. Linda
This is the first time that I am reading about this memorial. I knew of its existence but very few blogs cover it in the way you have. It seems quite poignant and a definite visit. Interesting to note the chime and its symbolism. Also, good to note how they have stated the danger of these weapons. Lovely read!
Ami, It was a large site inside and out with so many fascinating exhibits. A stark reminder sure for us all. Linda
Wow, what a gorgeous memorial! I had not seen this before- how sobering to realize how recently this actually took place. I love how they worked around the original remains and made it beautiful again, while still honoring its past. Would love to see this!
Chloe, We were glad to visit the memorial on our visit to Hiroshima. Great to remember on this coming 75th year anniversary! Linda
When you’re visiting countries that have been affected by tyranny or war I think it’s so important to try to immerse yourself in that part of their history because without learning about the past, you can’t truly understand the dynamics of the present and how the events have shaped the community. We were deeply affected by the war museums and historical sites in Cambodia and Vietnam – you can’t always say that they’re enjoyable, but they’re an integral part of the travel experience.
Jay, I agree that visits like this are not enjoyable. But they are always educational. And great to see that such a memorial exists and is widely visited. Linda
This was such an interesting but also touching place to visit. We were there couple years ago on a Thanksgiving day, which made it even more humbling experience. We enjoyed visiting the museum even though it definitely made as sad too, and we saw some children singing at the Children’s Monument. I will never forget that day.
Paula, This is definitely the kind of spot to visit that moves you. And one your will remember. Hard to believe the 75th anniversary is coming up! Linda
Hmm. There seems to be another Chloe. I am very surprised to see there are two of us! I found this memorial – which I had no idea had existed – to be overwhelmingly sad. I’m not sure I could visit it without constant tears in my eyes. Perhaps because my generation grew up in its shadow, it still feels quite immediate. It also occurred to me that the nature of it might have been the inspiration for the Vietnam War Memorial and for the 911 Memorial as well. David must have been profoundly affected by this experience.
Chloe, This was the top of David’s list for sure. We normally do not split up for tours but both sites we visited were ones we did not want to miss. It was very moving. And quite amazing to realize that this year is the 75th Anniversary! Linda
I recently read a Japan Travel Itinerary, where I stumbled across Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, which intrigued me. And reading this detailed blog post was such an enriching experience. Visiting sights like these every now and then, are like a stark reminder pointing at our face, to how the history has shaped out to be. I remember visiting the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh, that left shook me up for some time. But I learned so much in person.
Arnav, I agree that visiting sites like this are important reminders of the past. We learn so much when we travel. The detail was amazing. Linda
What a chilling – and sobering place! Everyone should visit it. I love how they turned it into something positive, a hope for history not to be repeated. Would’ve been an extremely emotional visit, I’m sure.
Emese-Reka, It was indeed a sobering spot to visit. And a reminder to future generations for sure. Linda
I have heard about this memorial before but never knew about it in such great detail. Every time I visit a memorial or a place which has a dark history reminds me of the importance of realising the essence of humanity as a whole. The devastation that atomic bombing brought has been deep etched with agony in the hearts of Japanese and can be never forgotten. These places are indeed a realisation that how we should really be more thoughtful about being humane and compassionate.
Debjani, The Hiroshima Memorial site was definitely one that brought the reality to life. A start reminder for sure. And one that the world should remember. Linda
This would be one place I would like to visit. So manylessons around this Peace Memorial with all the monuments snd exhibits that have been created to prevent use of another nuclear weapons.
Carol, Sometimes it is hard to visit places like this. But there is always so much to learn. And the memorial acts as a real reminder. Linda
We spent 3 weeks in Japan from Hokkaido to Kyushu but did not visit this place. We sauntered off to see Miyajima island and the Torii gate like you. Now, I need to visit this place in our next visit – these are reminders of the past and we learn a lot by just being here.
Jan, We usually don’t split up when we travel. But we only had one day in Hiroshima and wanted to see it all. Glad we got such diverse views of this part of Japan. Linda
I would love to visit this site when I visit Hiroshima. So much of hostory. Your blog is very well written.
Puja, Thanks for the comment on the blog. We love sharing our adventures. Even the more sobering ones like our visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Linda
Very fascinating, but very sad! I have always wanted to visit Hiroshima and explore all the history behind it. I would love to listen to the stories from the survivors and hear what it was like. The memorials are beautiful. I love the memorial tower and bell. I sure hope I can make it here one day.
Melissa, It was a very different stop at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. But an important one too. We need to remember the history. Important on this 75th anniversary. Linda
Brought back my memories from my visit to Hiroshima peach memorial. I had chills when I was reading the stories in the museum, it was so heart breaking. I did not realise it had happened 75 years ago and when I visited the place, I know how much the locals still feel the pain. I spoke to a few of the locals and got the insight. It was such a sad event in the history of mankind.
Raksha, It was indeed a very sobering place to visit. I am sure talking to locals gave it a much more personal perspective. Hard to believe 75 years has passed! Linda
I visited Hiroshima and its Peace Memorial Park as part of a trip through Japan a few years ago and it’s something I’ll never forget. The visit to the museum displaying photographs and belongings of the victims was extremly moving. Surely a place to see at least once, for its deep educational and emotional value.
Val, I agree that spots like this stay in your memories. So much to learn. And such a great lesson we should not forget. Linda
The Peace Mark Memorial is a somber reminder of the power of war. I think it’s important we visit places like this and the concentration camps in Europe so we can hopefully avoid future atrocities.
Brianna, It really is hard to believe that it has been 75 years. A somber reminder for sure. Linda
I visited the park and the museum. It’s certainly an important reminder of what an atomic bomb can do – also longterm. However, I disliked that there was no explanation what lead to this catastrophe, Japan’s role during WWII etc. Not to diminish the consequences, but it’s part of the big picture…ask the countries that where occupied by Japan during WWII…. 🙁
History is always displayed so one sided sometimes. We were amazed when we visited China and heard about what the Japanese had done. I had no idea. But still a great reminder of the damage.
I work as a tourguide in Japan and visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial several times a year. And still being there, telling the guests about the history of the A-Bomb is always very emotional. And the museum moves me to tears every time I visit.
We were not sure we wanted to visit Hiroshima. But in the end, we were very glad we did. Moving indeed.