Located in central Hiroshima, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a sobering reminder of Hiroshima’s tragic past following the world’s first atomic bomb attack. The purpose of the park is not only to memorialize the victims of the bomb, but to also raise awareness of the horrors of nuclear war and advocate world peace. Before the war, the area, which the park currently occupies was the political and commercial heart of the city. This is why it was targeted for the atomic bomb. Four years following the attack, it was decided that the area would be dedicated to peace and it would serve as a memorial for the thousands of victims. Over a million visitors from all over the world visit the park each year. On August 6, 2015, the park commemorated the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the city.
Officially opened on April 1, 1954, the park spans over 120,000 square meters and is lined with trees and walkways. It contains several memorials and a museum, including the Memorial Centograph, the Flame of Peace, the Children’s Peace Monument, the Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Domu), the Rest House and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
The Memorial Cenotaph located near the center of the park is an arched tomb for the victims of the bomb. A stone chest below the arch holds a register that contains all the known names of those who lost their lives as a result of the bombing. Engraved on the cenotaph are the words, “Let all souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” A memorial ceremony takes place here annually on the anniversary of the bombing.
The Flame of Peace is a memorial symbolizing two hands held with palms facing upward. It was designed to call attention to the victims of the bombing who were unable to satisfy their thirst for water. The flame has been burning since August 1, 1964 and will be extinguished once all of the nuclear weapons on earth have been destroyed.
The Children’s Peace Monument was built to memorialize all the children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The monument features Sadako Sasaki holding a golden crane above her head. Sadako Sasaki was a young girl who developed leukemia from exposure to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of 11. She is known for attempting to fold 1,000 origami paper cranes in order that her wish to become healthy again would come true. In Japan, the crane is a symbol of longevity and happiness, and it is said that the gods will grant a wish to anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes. Sadly, she died having completed her 644th crane, but her classmates folded the rest with which she was buried. The monument was built with donations from school children.
Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Domu) is the skeletal ruins of the former Industrial Promotion Hall. The bomb is believed to have exploded almost directly above the building and it is one of the very few structures left standing near the epicenter of the blast. It was left as is after the bombing in memory of the casualties. The dome is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Rest House is another building that survived the atomic bomb. The building constructed in 1929, was originally the Taishoya Kimono Shop. It was used as a fuel distribution station after 1944 and when the bomb was dropped in 1945, it crushed the roof, destroyed the interior and everything consumable burned except what was in the basement.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is the primary museum in the park dedicated to educating visitors about the bomb. It contains exhibits and information covering the buildup to war, the role of Hiroshima in the war up to the bombing and extensive information on the bombing and its effects, along with substantial memorabilia and pictures from the bombing.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is open all year round. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is open:
8:30 am to 6:00 pm (March – November)
8:30 am to 5:00 pm (December – February)
8:30 am to 7:00 pm in August during summer
It is closed from December 29 – January 1
The park memorializes the important turning point in a devastating war and should be on your list of places to visit when in Hiroshima. It is only through awareness and education that we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
Address: Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811