World War II took the lives of 75 million people around the globe, leaving destruction and tragedy in its wake. The end to all of that came with even more devastation: Hiroshima and Nagaski, the two atomic bombs that would bring a final, ruthless blow to Japan. While this did signify the end of the war, it also signified what many believed to be the end of the city of Hiroshima.
It's estimated that it took the lives of 140,000 people although the exact number has never been confirmed, due to the long-lasting effects of radiation. Over the next two years, Hiroshima would spend every moment rebuilding but would remember the date of August 6th, 1945, forever. In tribute to those lives lost and as a testament of strength to Japan, the Hiroshima Peace Park was built, featuring unique works that symbolize what life was like the moment that hatch door was opened.
Hiroshima Peace Park
The Hiroshima Peace Park is home to the Peace Memorial Museum, as well as the following exhibits: Memorial Cenotaph, Peace Flame, Peace Bells, Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound, Cenotaph for Korean Victims, Gates of Peace, Memorial Tower to Mobilized Students, as well as more than 30 other small memorials in tribute to the lives lost. The park itself covers nearly 30 acres which are open to the general public for self-guided tours and also houses three museums: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, International Conference Center Hiroshima, and the Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall.
It was created nearly a decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and is considered to be a Public Park for World Peace. Hiroshima was the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack, and the park is devoted to the legacy that is the city, as well as its long recovery. The design of the park was done by the architect Kenzō Tange, and was built on an open field that was originally left decimated by the destruction.
A-Bomb Dome, AKA Hiroshima Peace Memorial
One of the most well-known memorials in the park is known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and also goes by the name of the A-Bomb Dome. The ruins of this building stand just as they did after Hiroshima was attacked, and it's somewhat of a miracle as to how it's still standing today.
The building itself was the Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, and it was one of only a few buildings in the city to remain standing. It has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands as a sobering reminder of the events that took place there less than eight decades ago. What's even more incredible is that the bomb detonated almost directly over the building, which is often quite overwhelming to consider when one is standing right in front of it.
Cenotaph For The A-Bomb Victims
The sheer terror, fear, and devastation that echoed through Hiroshima from the moment the nuclear attack was started until two years later when the city found what can only be described as a hint of normalcy, is often unthinkable.
The Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims is a memorial dedicated to each name inscribed on its register, of which there are 220,000 in total. It's known as the center of Hiroshima Peace Park. This is where ceremonies are held on the anniversary of the attack, with a moment of silence to follow at 8:15 AM and speeches held throughout the day.
The common theme throughout the park, for those who hadn't caught on, is the idea of peace. Following such a horrific nuclear attack on Japan, the park was built out of light and love, with the strength of an entire city forced to rebuild following.
The Peace Bell is located at the entrance to the park, and it's encouraged that visitors ring it during their admission as a sign of peace.
Another sobering memorial is the Memorial Mound, which is, tragically, the final resting place for the tens of thousands of victims whose ashes are buried there. This is the spot where bodies were collected and cremated, as it was the closest to the epicenter of the detonation.
There truly are not many words to describe such a memorial, only that it stands so that others may remember those who lost their lives that day.
Children's Peace Memorial
This memorial is dedicated to the children who lost their lives during Hiroshima but also tells a sad story of the inspiration of a little girl. Believing that she would recover from her injuries following the attack if she made 1,000 paper cranes, this is where the idea for the monument itself came from.
Visitors can see a child holding onto the wings of a giant paper crane, which is also symbolic of happiness and longevity. This is often a very emotional stop for those walking through the park, as children who visit leave their own paper cranes around the memorial.
The Flame Of Peace
Unlike the other memorials throughout the park, this one, in particular, is geared toward the future.
The flame was lit for the first time back in 1964 and has been alight ever since, with the ongoing mission of never being put out until all nuclear weapons are gone from the earth.
Peace Memorial Museum
Those wanting to learn more about the bombing of Hiroshima also have the option to visit the Peace Memorial Museum. Some visitors skip it because the memorials within the park are already so emotional and somber, while others wish to learn as much as they can by educating themselves through the museum's exhibits. Note: Some of the museum's exhibits may be disturbing to some, as they depict scenes following the Hiroshima explosion.
- Cost: ¥200 for adults | ¥100 yen for high school students | Free for junior high students and under
- Hours: March-July 8:30 AM - 6 PM | August 8:30- 7 PM (Open until 8 PM on August 5th and 6th) | September-November 8:30 AM - 6 PM | December-February 8:30 AM - 5 PM