Hiroshima, Japan

On August 6, 1945, “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, killing as many as 200,000 people, quickening the end of WWII and starting the Atomic Age. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to see the ruins, hear the stories and pray for peace.

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1 A-bomb Dome at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

At 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, a squadron of B-29 aircraft flew over Hiroshima and the Enola Gay released “Little Boy,” the world’s first atomic bomb. Energy equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT detonated 1,900 feet above the city, resulting in 4.4 miles of destruction and fire. 30% of the population were instantly killed. The A-Bomb Dome is the ruins of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall which opened in 1915. The hollow shell was preserved in remembrance of the horror. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is across the river from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

1 Chome-10 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
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2 Motoyasu-bashi Bridge at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

The Motoyasu-bashi Bridge spanning the Motoyasu-gawa River was only 330 feet from the Hypocenter at Shima Hospital yet remained standing after the atomic blast. A few feet from the east side of the bridge is the Hiroshima City Zero Milestone. Visitors to the A-bomb Dome walk across the bridge to reach the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

1 Chome-10 Ōtemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0051, Japan
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3 Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Beneath the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound are the ashes of an estimated 70,000 people killed in Hiroshima. Their corpses were too charred to identify. Mourners often leave glasses or bottles of water near the hill because the burns and heat caused by the blast caused an incredible thirst. Many victims begged for water as they died. Thousands of others perished in the nearby Otagawa River while trying to escape the intense fires.

1 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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4 Children’s Peace Monument at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Artists Kazuo Kikuchi and Kiyoshi Ikebe collaborated to create this chilling sculpture at the Peace Memorial Park of children clinging to the side of a bomb. On top is a girl with a crane above her head. This represents Sadako Sasaki, a 12 year old who died from leukemia resulting from radiation poisoning. In a wish for peace, she folded 1,000 origami cranes before she died. Visitors typically leave paper cranes around the memorial in her honor and for all of the children who perished from the two atomic bombings.

1 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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5 Memorial Cenotaph at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

In the center of Memorial Cenotaph at Peace Memorial Park is the Hiroshima Pond of Peace. At one end is the arch-shaped Memorial Cenotaph. It contains the names of all of the victims of the atomic bomb. The epitaph reads, “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.” Behind it is the Peace Flame. Since 1964, the fire has remained burning and will not be extinguished until the world is rid of nuclear devices. Both of these monuments align to the A-bomb Dome seen in the background.

1 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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6 Prayer for Peace Statue at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Among the numerous sculptures with the 30 acre Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is this bronze of a mother holding her child and framed by a crescent moon. “Prayer for Peace” was erected in 1977 and partially sponsored by the Hiroshima Chamber of Commerce. The artist, Katsuzo Entsyba, wrote about his piece, “I want to sound the trumpet for peace in the search for a new future.”

1 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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7 Hall of Remembrance at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Inside of the circular Hall of Remembrance is a wall portraying Hiroshima on the day of the bombing. It was created from 140,000 tiles representing the number of victims. The complex also contains an exhibition area, library and victim’s information center. The later includes photographs and names of those who were killed. The mission of Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is to “convey the truth of the tragedy … and build a peaceful world free from nuclear weapons.”

1 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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8 Peace Memorial Museum at Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Defining the southern border of Peace Memorial Park is a museum dedicated to telling the stories of August 6, 1945 and the gruesome aftermath. Within this Main Building of the Peace Memorial Museum are extensive displays, photographs and artifacts. They vividly chronical the impact of the blast, heat, shock waves and radiation. Collectively, the exhibits will make you sad, angry and somber. The museum’s East Wing explains the history of the bomb. The Fountain of Prayer was created in 1964 to memorialize the victims who died while screaming, “Water, please, water.”

1 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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9 Gates of Peace near Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Gates of Peace are a row of ten glass towers standing nearly 30 feet tall with the inscription of “Peace” in 49 languages. Apparently, they represent Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell while the tenth symbolizes the ravages of atomic warfare. The memorial is located along Peace Boulevard (Heiwa Odori) across from Peace Memorial Museum. Gates of Peace was created in 2005 by Clara Halter and Jean-Michel Wilmotte. They designed a similar monument near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

4-15 Nakajimachō, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811, Japan
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10 Hiroshima Central Park in Hiroshima, Japan

While tourists flock to Peace Memorial Park, residents spend their time in nearby Central Park. Within 104 acres are a youth center, The Family Swimming Pool, Children’s Museum, Central Library, an arena and baseball stadium plus a greenspace and the Yuhua Garden. The Hiroshima Castle is another major attraction of Chuo Koen

21 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0011, Japan
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11 Hiroshima Prefectural Sports Center in Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima Prefectural Sports Center is a multi-use facility designed for judo, archery and swimming competitions. The main venue, called the Hiroshima Green Arena, has a seating capacity of 10,000 people. The complex opened in 1994 in time to host the volleyball and gymnastic events of the 12th Asian Games.

4-1, Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima 730-0011
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12 Hiroshima Museum of Art in Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima Museum of Art was established in 1978 by Hiroshima Bank to exhibit its private collection. The European and Japanese paintings are displayed in five galleries. One is devoted to “Romanticism to Impressionism” including artists such as Monet and Renoir. The “Post-Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists” has works by Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. The other galleries are called “Fauvism and Picasso,” “École de Paris” and “Modern Japanese Paintings.”

3-2 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima 730-0011, Japan
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13 Sightseeing Sampan on Moat at Hiroshima Castle in Hiroshima, Japan

Along the outer edge of the Hiroshima Castle’s square-shaped moat is a walking path. This promenade is very popular among joggers, bikers and those out for a delightful stroll. Tourists often opt for a ride along the waterway in a modified sampan. The sightseeing boat offers relaxed views of the castle grounds.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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14 Main Gate to Hiroshima Castle Grounds in Hiroshima, Japan

Most people enter the Hiroshima Castle Grounds from the south (across from the Museum of Art) by walking over the wooden Gate Bridge and beneath this Main Gate. Both are historical reproductions. You then enter the Ninomaru (second compound). Before crossing the moat into the main compound (Honmaru) there is an eucalyptus tree that endured the blast. Just on the other side is a surviving willow. Only one other tree near the Hypocenter remained standing after August 6, 1945.

21 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0011, Japan
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15 Military Air Defense Room Ruins in Hiroshima, Japan

During World War II, the Motomachi neighborhood where the Hiroshima Castle is located served as the Chugoku Regional Military Headquarters. Below ground was the Air Defense Room. When the atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, all public communication lines were destroyed. However, a group of Hijyama Girl’s High School students who had volunteered to support the war effort were in this bunker. Yoshie Oka, a 14-year-old member of the Student Communications Squadron, was able to convey news of the attack from the crippled military phone.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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16 Torii at Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan

A Gokoku shrine is dedicated to the memory of those who died during war. When this one was built in 1868, the Mikureisha shrine was a memorial to the victims of the Boshin War. In 1934, after it was moved near the Hiroshima Castle, it was called Kansaishoukonsha. After being destroyed in 1945, it was rebuilt and called the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine. Interestingly, the original torii gate survived the blast despite being less than 2,300 feet from the Hypocenter. This one is a replica.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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17 Shimme Horse at Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan

At the Hiroshima Gokoku Shrine is this bronze sculpture of a shimme horse. According to Shinto belief, the kami or spiritual deity rides this type of stallion. Many shrines throughout Japan still stable white horses which they consider to be blessed and holy. The word shimme means sacred horse.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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18 Main Keep of Hiroshima Castle in Hiroshima, Japan

In 1589, Mōri Terumoto (a feudal lord or daimyō) commissioned this castle while the settlement was called Gokamura (five villages). He renamed the area Hiroshima meaning “wide island.” For nearly twenty years, “Carp Castle” was occupied by Fukushima Masanori before serving twelve generations of the Asano family from 1619 until the end of the feudal system in 1871. It was then a military base when destroyed by the atomic blast in 1945. Only this five-story main keep (tenshu) was reconstructed following the original Azuchi-Momoyama design. Inside of Hiroshima Castle is a simple yet fascinating museum.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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19 Moat Encircling Hiroshima Castle in Hiroshima, Japan

Hiroshima Castle was formally protected by three moats. Although two have been filled in, the innermost one still exists and is best viewed from the castle’s top floor. The carp-filled waterway is encircled by hundreds of cherry trees, offering incredible visions of pink and lovely fragrances during the spring cherry blossom season. It is equally beautiful in autumn when the leaves turn a spectrum of reds and oranges. On the right is the Hiroshima Prefectural Sports Center and next to it is the Museum of Art.

21 Motomachi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture 730-0011, Japan
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20 Perseverance in Hiroshima, Japan

I was enthralled with this woman. Easily in her late 80s if not her early 90s, she was less than five feet tall and impeccably dressed. Each step was measured yet sure as she walked with a steady determination while dragging her luggage and clutching her purse. I wondered if she was a survivor of the atomic blast.

4 Motomachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0011, Japan
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