This large green space in the center of Hiroshima was once the thriving political and commercial heart of the city. On August 8th, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was dropped on an actual target and the center of Hiroshima was destroyed. Four years later, this area of the city was designated as a memorial zone.
Today, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park encompasses 30 acres and is home to numerous memorial statues and a world-class museum. Arguably the highlight of the park is the Peace Memorial Museum, which has recently undergone a full renovation. The museum focuses on the events of August 6th, with personal images and paraphernalia from the aftermath of the bomb. The exhibits don’t shy away from the human toll of the event, and some visitors might feel emotionally overwhelmed. A final section of the museum emphasizes Hiroshima’s commitment to a nuclear-free future.
Nearby, the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims holds a register of all those who passed away both during the bombing and from related effects after the event. The stone arch was designed to resemble a type of ancient Japanese dwelling.
Scattered around the park grounds are a number of memorials dedicated to various victims of the atomic bomb. A statue of a child holding a crane represents all young victims of the bombing, but the figure is modeled on one specific person – Sadako Sasaki. Sasaki survived the bombing but developed leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation. After a friend told her of a Japanese legend that promised the folder of 1000 origami cranes would have their wish granted, Sadako set out to meet that goal. She folded some 600 origami cranes before succumbing to her sickness at the age of 12.
Nearby is a monument dedicated to the Korean victims of the atomic bombing. To make up for a shortage of laborers during the war years, Japan had forcibly imported a number of Koreans to work in factories and camps. Several thousand Koreans were in Hiroshima on the morning the atomic bomb was dropped.
On the north end of the park, the Atomic Bomb Dome – also known as the Gembaku Dome – is a skeletal reminder of the horror of that historic day. At 8:15am, the bomb detonated in the air directly over this structure, incinerating everything in the vicinity but leaving the building’s framework. Today, the A-Bomb Dome serves as a visceral reminder of that fateful day.
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