To most people, Hiroshima recalls an ill-fated city where hundreds of thousands of people died as the result of the world’s first atomic bomb. But if you look at the city today, you won’t believe that this place was once ground zero. Within seven decades, Hiroshima has re-born into a modern, peaceful city where people around the world came to wish for a future without nuclear weapons.
Prior to that fateful day, Hiroshima (広島市) was a thriving city with a population of over 350,000. It was the political and commercial heart of the Chugoku region, as well as a center for shipping and military supplies production. Then, on the 6th of August 1945, at 8:15 AM, the atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, releasing hell to the harbor city.
Consequences of that Fateful Day
Within a radius of two kilometers, nearly everything was obliterated. The only building that remains standing is the Atomic Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム) which served as a venue to promote the city’s industries. When the bomb detonated, over 70,000 people were instantly killed by the initial blast.
Another 70,000 suffered fatal injuries. By the end of the year, the number of casualties rose sharply to around 166,000 as many people from other regions traveled to Hiroshima to seek their relatives. They died as a result of being exposed to radiation.
The Resurrection of Hiroshima
After the war, Hiroshima underwent a massive reconstruction with support from the national government and the private sector. Destroyed historical monuments, such as the Hiroshima Castle and the Shukkein Garden were also returned to their former glory. Furthermore, predictions that the city would be uninhabitable proved to be incorrect. Thus, many Hiroshima citizens started returning to their hometowns.
The park reflects the hope of peace.
An expansive, leafy park was built at the heart of the city to replace the former political and economic center. Named Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, it reflects the hope of any citizen on this planet. The whole area includes several structures, such as the Atomic Bomb Dome, the Children’s Peace Monument, and the Peace Memorial Museum whose focus is on the tragic event of 6 August.
The park’s central feature is, however, the long tree-lined Pond of Peace leading to the Cenotaph, an arched tomb for 222,000 registered victims of the bomb. Also at the pond is the Flame of Peace, which is set to burn until the last nuclear weapon in this world is destroyed…
Tips for visiting Hiroshima
- Located on the Sanyo Shinkansen, Hiroshima is less than two hours from Osaka and Kyoto. If traveling from Tokyo, the trip takes approximately four hours.
- Because of its large scale, the Peace Memorial Park is nearly unmissable. The nearest tram station is Genbaku Dome-mae (Atomic Bomb Dome). Take Tram 2 or 6, if starting from Hiroshima Station (180¥, one way). Pay directly at the conductor or driver, when getting off.