Places to go in Japan: Hiroshima
Hiroshima is the principal city of the Chugoku Region and home to around a million people. The city however became known worldwide at 8:15am on Monday 6 August 1945 when the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima. The destructive power and the horrific aftermath of that blast is well known.
In planning our trip to Japan it was without question that I wanted to come to Hiroshima, to see the city and pay respects to all those who had perished as a result of the atomic bomb.
There is actually quite a bit to see and do in the area so if you can, plan to spend a few nights down this way. We were a little strapped for time by this part of the trip and in hindsight I wished I had stayed at least another night.
Probably the most visited area of Hiroshima is the A-Bomb Dome and the Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum.
The Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the iconic remnants of the bombing. It was the Industrial Promotion Hall and was one of the few structures that was somewhat still standing after the bombing, which when you consider it is less than 100m away from the Hypocentre where the bomb dropped is quite amazing. The dome is on the banks of the Motoyasu River. There is a real energy and feeling walking around the building, really hard to explain but quite moving.
After you have walked past the dome you will cross the river via the Aioi Bridge. The Aioi Bridge today is a reconstruction of the original that stood in it’s place. It has a distinctive “T” shape when viewed from above and was actually the target/aiming point for the bomb.
The Peace Memorial Park is in the island in the middle of the Motoyasu river. There are a number of memorials throughout the park and the Hiroshima Victims Memorial Cenotaph stands in front of the Peace Museum.
Throughout many of the monuments and especially the Children’s memorials you will notice the large numbers of paper cranes. The story of the 1,000 paper cranes you probably are all aware of – but it is in reference to Sadako Sasaki. Sadako Sasaki was two years old when the atomic bomb went off and as a result of the exposure to the radiation developed Acute Leukemia in 1955. Inspired by the age-old Japanese belief that anyone who makes 1,000 origami cranes will see their wish come true, Sadako spent her last days folding paper cranes on her hospital bed in the hope she would recover.
Following her death in 1955 her group of friends formed a Children’s Peace Movement and their efforts culminated in the construction of the Children’s Peace Monument in the Park. Afterwards the paper crane has become a symbol of peace, with children from across the world folding the cranes and donating them to the memorial.
The park is a really special place to visit. It was not designed to attribute blame or to politicise the atomic bomb, it was firstly as a memorial to those who perished and to remind us all of the horrors of war and especially the use of nuclear weapons.
Walking around the peace park it is quite easy to find yourself in a bit of a sad mood. I found it really important to make sure we walked around the downtown area and through some of the bustling streets. It helps to remember that this city is a city that has rebuilt and is actually a really stunning enjoyable place to visit.
When you are in Hiroshima you need to be sure to try their local speciality – Okonomiyaki “Hiroshima-Style” – as opposed to the Osaka style you might have tried in Osaka. There is a bit of conjecture as to which area officially started it, but Hiroshima style is quite tasty so I am happy to give them the benefit of the doubt.
The place to try it out is Shintanchi Okonomimura it is without a doubt the palace of Okonomiyaki. Spread over four floors are over twenty different Okonomiyaki restaurants. Each seats around 10 people so just wander through until you find one with room to fit. Most seemed to have English menus.
Tomorrow we will be heading out to explore some of the areas near to Hiroshima, in particular Miyajima also known as Itsukushima island
Thanks for following along with today’s post. I hope you enjoyed reading about Hiroshima and seeing some of the beautiful images. I really was struck by the peace of this city but also that there is also a great nightlife and restaurant scene.
Have you been to Hiroshima? What did you think of the city? Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below I would love to hear from you.
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