At 8:15am, August 6th, 1945, a US B-29 Bomber dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people on impact and completely devastating the city. A further estimated 50,000 people would die over the days, weeks and years to come due to radiation exposure.
When you arrive in Hiroshima, the first thing you notice is how new everything looks. Very different to its neighbours like Osaka and Kyoto which have very traditional areas. But, of course, there’s a sad story that lies behind why everything is so new. After the devastation brought to Hiroshima during World War II, the city rebuilt itself and now welcomes thousands of tourists every year who explore the city and educate themselves on its history.
The first half of our day in Hiroshima was spent in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (平和記念公園), a 120,000 square metre area of the city dedicated to remembering those who lost their lives during the bombing and promoting global denuclearization. After witnessing the terrible destruction caused by an atomic bomb first-hand, Japan decided to use the city and stories of witnesses to become, arguably, the world’s strongest advocate for denuclearization. We firmly believe everyone should take an opportunity to visit the Peace Park, and in particular, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. The atmophere around you completely transforms when you enter the museum as you are confronted with the innocent victims of the bombing. The exhibitions within the museum are designed to be confronting to visitors to remind us not to take peace for granted. Outside the museum, we found several memorial structures placed throughout the park, to remember those who were lost.
One of the most famous landmarks in the park, is the A-Bomb Dome (Hiroshima Peace Memorial). This giant structure was the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. When the bomb exploded on August 6th, it detonated directly above this building and, amazingly, was one of the few buildings to remain standing. The decision was made to leave the building standing and preserve it. It’s now a dedicated UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands as a promotion of peace.
After a quick break for lunch, getting in one last taste of Hiroshima Okonomiyaki, we headed for Hiroshima Castle. Originally built in 1589 by Feudal Lord, Mori Terumoto, the castle was an important seat of power in Western Japan. It was not only the economical centre of the city, but also physically in the centre of the city. Like many castles in Japan, it was destroyed in 1945 but some ruins still remain on the site, and the castle was rebuilt. The castle is now 7 stories high and provides excellent views of the city from the top.
Our day in Hiroshima had come to an end, so, it was back on the shinkansen to head to Osaka for the night.