The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park (平和記念公園) sits on what was formerly a prominent business quarter of the city, the Nakajima District. It was completed on Apr 1954 & spans over 122,000sq m. During the early years of the Showa Period from 1926-1989 it was the site of many wooden 2 storey structures. Kenzo Tange planned & designed the park at Tange Lab & dedicated it to the City of Hiroshima, the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear attack & in memory of the victims who lost their lives on 6th Aug 1945 when the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb on the city during WWII.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park ( 平和記念公園 ) was built on an open field created by the explosion & today, there are a number of memorials, monuments, museums & lecture halls that draw over a million visitors annually. Memorial Cenotaph was the first monument built on 6th Aug 1952. The arch covers a cenotaph that bears the names of over 220,000 people killed during the bombing or from exposure to radiation & represents a shelter for the souls of the victims.
The Memorial Cenotaph is aligned with the Peace Flame & the A-Bomb Dome. An epitaph written by Tadayoshi Saika, a Professor of English Literature at Hiroshima University reads: “Please rest in peace, for we/they shall not repeat the error.”
On 3rd Nov 1983, an explanation plaque in English was added to convey Professor Saika’s intent: “The inscription on the front panel offers a prayer for the peaceful repose of the victims & a pledge on behalf of all humanity never to repeat the evil of war. It expresses the spirit of Hiroshima – enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony & prosperity for all, & yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.”
The Monument of Prayer was erected on 15th Aug 1960, on the 15th anniversary of the end of the war. This sculpture by Yoshizumi Yokoe depicts a young couple holding their child & beside it on the right, is a poem by Hiroshima-born Atsuo Oki titled: ” Praying for Peace & the Peaceful Repose of the Departed Souls”.
The Peace Flame is another monument to the victims of the Atomic Bomb that destroyed Hiroshima & it was lit in 1964. It will not be extinguished until all the nuclear bombs on the planet are destroyed & the world is free from nuclear annihilation.
The Children’s Peace Monument is dedicated to the memory of the children who died in the bombing. The statue depicts a girl with outstretched arms with a folded paper crane rising above her. It is based on the story of Sadako Sasaki a young girl who died from radiation from the bomb who folded 1000 cranes in response to the ancient Japanese legend ( 千羽鶴) Senbazuru. It promises that anyone who folds a 1000 origami cranes will be granted a wish by the gods; such as happiness, eternal good luck, long life or recovery from illness or injury.
Though there are 3 bells in the park, this more well-known Peace Bell is situated near the Children’s Peace Monument & consists of a large Japanese bell hanging inside a small open structure. Visitors are encouraged to sound the bell loud & clear for world peace. The surface of the bell is a map of the world with the Atomic symbol the “sweet spot”. Designed by Masahiko Katori (1899-1988) the bell donated by the Greeks bear a quote from Socrates, which translated means “Know yourself.” Japanese & Sanskrit texts are also inscribed on in insides of the bell casted by Oigo Bell Works of Takaoka, Toyama.
You can cross over Moto-yasu Bashi (bridge) or Aioi Bashi (bridge) to get to A-Bomb Dome or Genbaku Dome as well as the Rest House, another bombed building in the park.
The A-Bomb Dome was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on 7th Dec 1996 after much lobbying by many A-Bomb survivors & Hiroshima citizens groups. It is an officially designated site of memory for the nation & humanity’s shared heritage of catastrophe; a symbol of horror of the massive destruction of nuclear weapons & mankind’s pledge for peace.
The 20m high Peace Clock Tower was completed on 28th Oct 1967 & donated by the the Hiroshima Rijo Lions Club & designed by Shoji Ohata. It chimes everyday at 8.15am to mark the time when the first Atomic Bomb hit Hiroshima. The tower which is made of 3 iron pillars twisted by 60 degrees with a 2m spherical clock facing 3 directions on top. The sphere represents the people of the world being supported by the pillars, representing the hands of the citizens of the peaceful City of Hiroshima united in deep prayer & hope for endless peace that would surpass all difficulties.
The Peace Memorial Museum consists of 2 buildings & its main focus is on the events of 6th Aug 1945 & the advent of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The detailed displays & personal interviews with survivors of the bombing, struck deep chords in my heart & it is really unspeakable human suffering that brought tears to my eyes.
This is a normal glass bottle…
Look at the after effects where the bottle melted down & became deformed when exposed to the extreme heat of the conflagration. You can already imagine the horrifying devastation & destruction to human lives & properties at Ground Zero where the atomic bomb exploded at a height of 600m above the Shima Hospital in Saikumachi, Hiroshima City. The modern 2 floor brick building erected in 1933 was levelled in the blast.
The Museum houses exhibits & information on the role of Hiroshima in the war up to the bombing & extensive information on the Bomb & its effects along with substantial memorabilia & pictures.
Every year on 6th Aug, “A-Bomb Day”, the City of Hiroshima holds the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony in memory of the victims who perished & to pray for lasting world peace. The ceremony begins at 8am in front of Memorial Cenotaph with many citizens & families of the deceased in attendance. During the ceremony, speeches are made, wreaths are laid & a minute of silence is observed at 8.15am in honour of the victims who died at the time of the Atomic bomb’s explosion.
The horror, immense human suffering, physical & psychological pain that destroys lives, properties, neighbourhoods & countries only proves once again that there are no winners in any conflict. Hiroshima & Nagasaki serves as a stark reminder that wars can never properly resolve the real issues & that we should never take peace in our country for granted.
PS. The Peace Memorial Museum would be closed from 14th Dec 2020 to 3rd Jan 2021 to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus. The A-Bomb Dome is also undergoing preservation works from Sept 2020 till Mar 2021 & would be covered in scaffolding.