The city of Hiroshima will forever be associated with the dawn of the atomic age. Today, this urban centre is a vibrant, modern metropolis and it is hard to imagine the area was utterly destroyed by the world’s first nuclear bombing at the end of World War II. While rebuilt in typical Japanese urban sprawl, there are many reminders of its history and legacy scattered throughout the city. Here are a few photos from a recent visit.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
On August 6, 1945, 80,000 people perished in an instant, while another 70,000 died in the aftermath due to burns and radiation sickness. Three days later, a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, destroying the city and killing another 80,000. Most of those who died were civilians. No visit to Hiroshima is complete without a sobering visit to the Peace Memorial Park, in memory of those who lost their lives in the world’s first, and so far only, nuclear attacks.
The park draws over a million visitors annually, and is comprised of a number of museums (the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum being primary) in addition to many monuments and memorials. It also serves as a remembrance of the horrors of nuclear war and a strong advocate for world peace.
At the north end of the park, the A-Bomb Dome “Genbaku Dome” is what remains of the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the building that stood closest to the hypocenter of the explosion. The skeletal remnants are a powerful reminder of the total destructive power of such weapons, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Originally constructed in 1589, Hiroshima Castle (also called Carp Castle) was the economical and physical center of the city during feudal Japan. Its main keep is five stories tall, and its grounds are surrounded by a moat. The castle was destroyed by the atomic blast, but the facade rebuilt in 1958 and the building now serves as a museum of Hiroshima’s pre-war history.
Shukkei-en Japanese Garden
Located near the castle, Shukkei-en is a historical garden that was built in 1620. The garden displays many features of the traditional aesthetics of Japanese gardens, including miniature representation of mountains, valleys, and forests in the landscaping. The entire garden is connected by a path which winds around the pond at the center of the garden.
Hiroshima Orizuru Tower
The Orizuru Tower is a relatively new addition to Hiroshima’s tourist attractions. Officially opened in September 2016, the 50 meter tall mixed-use office building is located next to the A-Bomb Dome and one of the few towers that offer a great view of the Peace Memorial Park and an aerial view of the Dome. A souvenir store and various restaurants occupy the main floor.
The open-air observation deck is best appreciated at dusk, when the city is lit up below and you can enjoy a hot chocolate in the cool night breeze. They even provide fleece blankets if it gets too chilly. A spiraling walkway leads up/down around the building, complete with art exhibits and fun slides between each floor. There is also an interactive multimedia floor where you can fold your own paper cranes and add them to the 12-storey tall glass wall.