The atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima at 8:15am on August 6th, 1945. It was the first dropping of its kind in world history during combat and it wiped out nearly a third of the city’s population. The area has become a pilgrimage for tens of thousands of visitors from across the world each year. On the 62nd anniversary (back in 2007) of the A-Bomb dropping on Hiroshima I wrote a short piece reflecting on my trip there a few years prior to that and last Monday I returned to the place. Despite it being a repeat visit for me it doesn’t get any easier, or less upsetting or emotional and thats exactly how it should be.
The iconic ruin of the A-Bomb Dome on the banks of the Aioi River was the former Industrial Promotion Hall. I never tire of looking at this place and only wish I could investigate closer but of course that’s never gonna happen and looking through the railings at the devastation is a standing reminder of the unprecedented horror and destructive power of nuclear weapons.
Across the other side of the river is the Peace Bell (above right) and further along the river heading towards the museum is the Children’s Peace Monument (below left). This is a statue based on the true story of a junior high school girl called Sadako Sasaki who was only two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. She contracted radiation from the bomb and believed that making 1000 paper cranes would grant her the wish of being cured. It sadly didn’t but her legacy lives on and children from all around the world are still inspired to fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near her statue and these present messages of world peace.
Finally, moving into the Peace Memorial Museum (50 yen entrance fee) we spent nearly a couple of hours walking around and reading the rather substantial amount of stories and articles dedicated to educating visitors about the bomb. These exhibits cover the build up 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.
As well as the section devoted to Sadako Sasaki what was also very moving was the number of damaged school personal items (clothing, pencil cases, lunch-boxes etc) donated by family members of the kids involved with a short, personal story of how the bomb affected said child which rarely concluded with anything other than the news of their death. All very, very sad indeed.
Earlier in the day we had taken a quick trip to Hiroshima-jo Castle but having seen the far superior Iwakuni-jo the day before and wanting to push on for the A-Bomb Dome we decided against going in and moved on pretty sharpish on a lovely fine day.