HIROSHIMA

Introduction

Info Hiroshima

introduction

Hiroshima (広島) is an industrial city of wide boulevards and criss-crossing rivers, located along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. Although many only know it for the horrific split second on August 6, 1945, when it became the site of the world's first atomic bomb attack, it is now a modern cosmopolitan city with excellent cuisine and a bustling nightlife.

Those expecting to step off the Shinkansen into a pile of smoldering rubble will be in for a surprise, as Hiroshima has all the ferroconcrete and blinking neon of any other modern Japanese city. Teenagers stream in and out of the station, where McDonald's and the latest keitai (mobile phones) await; hapless salarymen rush down Aioi-dori to their next meeting, casting a bloodshot eye toward the seedy bars of Nagarekawa as they pass. At first glance, it can be hard to imagine that anything out of the ordinary ever happened here.

Hiroshima was founded in 1589 on the delta formed by the Ota River, flowing out to the Seto Inland Sea. The warlord Mori Terumoto built a castle there, only to lose it eleven years later to Tokugawa Ieyasu after the Battle of Sekigahara, which marked the beginning of the Tokugawa shogunate. Control of the area was given to the Asano clan of samurai, who ruled without much incident for the next two and a half centuries. Their descendants embraced the rapid modernization of the Meiji period, and Hiroshima became the seat of government for the region, a major industrial center, and a busy port.

By World War II, Hiroshima was one of the larger cities in Japan, and a natural communications and supply center for the military. Forced laborers from Korea and China were shipped in by the tens of thousands, and local schoolchildren also spent part of their days working in munitions factories. Residents of the city must have felt curiously blessed for the first few years of the war, as Hiroshima had been left largely untouched by American bombing campaigns; that was, however, intended to ensure a more accurate measurement of the atomic bomb's effect on the candidate cities, which had been narrowed down to Hiroshima, Kokura, Kyoto, Nagasaki, and Niigata.

On 6 August 1945 at 8:15AM the American B-29 bomber Enola Gaydropped an atomic bomb dubbed "Little Boy" on Hiroshima. It is estimated that at least 70,000 people were killed in the explosion and its immediate aftermath. Most of the city was built of wood, and fires raged out of control across nearly five square miles, leaving behind a charred plain with a few scattered concrete structures. Corpses lay piled in rivers; medical treatment was virtually non-existent, as most of the city's medical facilities had been located near the hypocenter, and the few doctors left standing had no idea what hit them. That evening, radioactive materials in the atmosphere caused a poisonous "black rain" to fall.

In the days ahead, many survivors began to come down with strange illnesses, such as skin lesions, hair loss, and fatigue. Between 70,000 and 140,000 people would eventually die from radiation-related diseases. Known as hibakusha, the survivors were also subject to severe discrimination from other Japanese, but have since been at the forefront of Japan's post-war pacifism and its campaign against the use of nuclear weapons.

Recovery was slow, given the scale of the devastation, and black markets thrived in the first few years after the war. However, the reconstruction of Hiroshima became a symbol of Japan's post-war pacifism. Today, Hiroshima has a population of more than 1.1 million. Automobiles are a major local industry, with Mazda's corporate headquarters nearby. There are three excellent art museums in the city center, some of Japan's most fanatical sports fans, and a wide range of culinary delights — most notably the city's towering contribution to bar cuisine, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.

Although many visitors, especially Americans, may feel apprehensive about visiting Hiroshima, it is a friendly, welcoming city, with as much interest in Western culture as anywhere else in Japan. Tourists are welcomed, and exhibits related to the atomic bomb are not concerned with blame or accusations. Bear in mind, though, that many hibakusha still live in the city, and even most of the young people in Hiroshima have family members who lived through the blast. As such, the average Hiroshima resident isn't likely to relish talking about it, although you needn't shy away from the topic if one of the chatty fellows around the Peace Park brings it up.

info

POPULATION :1,173,980
FOUNDED : 
TIME ZONE : Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)
LANGUAGE : Japanese
RELIGION : observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)
AREA : 905.01 km2 (349.43 sq mi)
ELEVATION :
COORDINATES : 34°23′7″N 132°27′19″E
SEX RATIO : Male: 48.60%
 Female: 51.40%
ETHNIC : Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%
AREA CODE : 82
POSTAL CODE :
DIALING CODE : +81 82
WEBSITE :Official Website

Tourism

Hiroshima (広島) is an industrial city of wide boulevards and criss-crossing rivers, located along the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. Although many only know it for the horrific split second on August 6, 1945, when it became the site of the world's first atomic bomb attack, it is now a modern cosmopolitan city with excellent cuisine and a bustling nightlife.

Those expecting to step off the Shinkansen into a pile of smoldering rubble will be in for a surprise, as Hiroshima has all the ferroconcrete and blinking neon of any other modern Japanese city. Teenagers stream in and out of the station, where McDonald's and the latest keitai (mobile phones) await; hapless salarymen rush down Aioi-dori to their next meeting, casting a bloodshot eye toward the seedy bars of Nagarekawa as they pass. At first glance, it can be hard to imagine that anything out of the ordinary ever happened here.

Although many visitors, especially Americans, may feel apprehensive about visiting Hiroshima, it is a friendly, welcoming city, with as much interest in Western culture as anywhere else in Japan. Tourists are welcomed, and exhibits related to the atomic bomb are not concerned with blame or accusations. Bear in mind, though, that manyhibakusha still live in the city, and even most of the young people in Hiroshima have family members who lived through the blast. As such, the average Hiroshima resident isn't likely to relish talking about it, although you needn't shy away from the topic if one of the chatty fellows around the Peace Park brings it up.

History

Sengoku period (1589–1871)

Hiroshima was established on the river delta coastline of the Seto Inland Sea in 1589 by the powerful warlord Mōri Terumoto, who made it his capital after leaving Kōriyama Castle in Aki Province. Hiroshima Castle was quickly built, and in 1593 Terumoto moved in. Terumoto was on the losing side at the Battle of Sekigahara. The winner of the battle,Tokugawa Ieyasu, deprived Mori Terumoto of most of his fiefs including Hiroshima and gave Aki Province to Masanori Fukushima, a daimyo who had supported Tokugawa.


Imperial period (1871–1939)

After the han was abolished in 1871, the city became the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture. Hiroshima became a major urban center during the imperial period, as the Japanese economy shifted from primarily rural to urban industries. During the 1870s, one of the seven government-sponsored English language schools was established in Hiroshima. Ujina Harbor was constructed through the efforts of Hiroshima Governor Sadaaki Senda in the 1880s, allowing Hiroshima to become an important port city.

The San'yō Railway was extended to Hiroshima in 1894, and a rail line from the main station to the harbor was constructed for military transportation during the First Sino-Japanese War. During that war, the Japanese government moved temporarily to Hiroshima, and Emperor Meijimaintained his headquarters at Hiroshima Castle from September 15, 1894, to April 27, 1895. The significance of Hiroshima for the Japanese government can be discerned from the fact that the first round of talks between Chinese and Japanese representatives to end the Sino-Japanese War was held in Hiroshima, from February 1 to February 4, 1895. New industrial plants, including cotton mills, were established in Hiroshima in the late 19th century. Further industrialization in Hiroshima was stimulated during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, which required development and production of military supplies. The Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall was constructed in 1915 as a center for trade and exhibition of new products. Later, its name was changed to Hiroshima Prefectural Product Exhibition Hall, and again to Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.

During World War I, Hiroshima became a focal point of military activity, as the Japanese government entered the war on the Allied side. About 500 German prisoners of war were held in Ninoshima Island in Hiroshima Bay. The growth of Hiroshima as a city continued after the First World War, as the city now attracted the attention of the Catholic Church, and on May 4, 1923, an Apostolic Vicar was appointed for that city.


World War II and the atomic bombing (1939–1945)

During World War II, the 2nd General Army and Chugoku Regional Army were headquartered in Hiroshima, and the Army Marine Headquarters was located at Ujina port. The city also had large depots of military supplies, and was a key center for shipping.

The bombing of Tokyo and other cities in Japan during World War II caused widespread destruction and hundreds of thousands of deaths. There were no such air raids on Hiroshima. However, a real threat existed and was recognized. In order to protect against potential firebombings in Hiroshima, school children aged 11–14 years were mobilized to demolish houses and create firebreaks.

On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., the nuclear bomb "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, flown by Colonel Paul Tibbets, directly killing an estimated 80,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought the total number of deaths to 90,000–166,000. The population before the bombing was around 340,000 to 350,000. About 70% of the city's buildings were destroyed, and another 7% severely damaged.

The public release of film footage of the city following the attack, and some of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission research, about the human effects of the attack, was restricted during the occupation of Japan, and much of this information was censored until the signing of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, restoring control to the Japanese.

As Ian Buruma observed, "News of the terrible consequences of the atom bomb attacks on Japan was deliberately withheld from the Japanese public by US military censors during the Allied occupation—even as they sought to teach the natives the virtues of a free press. Casualty statistics were suppressed. Film shot by Japanese cameramen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings was confiscated. "Hiroshima", the account written by John Hersey for The New Yorker, had a huge impact in the US, but was banned in Japan. As [John] Dower says: 'In the localities themselves, suffering was compounded not merely by the unprecedented nature of the catastrophe ... but also by the fact that public struggle with this traumatic experience was not permitted.'" The US occupation authorities maintained a monopoly on scientific and medical information about the effects of the atomic bomb through the work of the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission, which treated the data gathered in studies of hibakusha as privileged information rather than making the results available for the treatment of victims or providing financial or medical support to aid victims. The US also stood by official denial of the ravages associated with radiation. Finally, not only was the press tightly censored on atomic issues, but literature and the arts were also subject to rigorous control prior.

The book Hiroshima by John Hersey was originally featured in article form and published in the magazine The New Yorker, on 31 August 1946. It is reported to have reached Tokyo, in English, at least by January 1947 and the translated version was released in Japan in 1949. Despite the fact that the article was planned to be published over four issues, "Hiroshima" made up the entire contents of one issue of the magazine. Hiroshima narrates the stories of six bomb survivors immediately prior to and for months after the dropping of the Little Boy bomb.

The oleander is the official flower of the city of Hiroshima because it was the first to bloom again after the explosion of the atomic bomb in 1945.


Postwar period (1945–present)

On September 17, 1945, Hiroshima was struck by the Makurazaki Typhoon (Typhoon Ida). Hiroshima Prefecture suffered more than 3,000 deaths and injuries, about half the national total. More than half the bridges in the city were destroyed, along with heavy damage to roads and railroads, further devastating the city.

Hiroshima was rebuilt after the war, with help from the national government through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law passed in 1949. It provided financial assistance for reconstruction, along with land donated that was previously owned by the national government and used for military purposes.

In 1949, a design was selected for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, the closest surviving building to the location of the bomb's detonation, was designated theGenbaku Dome (原爆ドーム) or "Atomic Dome", a part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was opened in 1955 in the Peace Park.

The peace park also contains a Peace Pagoda, built in 1966 by Nipponzan-Myōhōji. Uniquely, the pagoda is made of steel, rather than the usual stone.

Hiroshima was proclaimed a City of Peace by the Japanese parliament in 1949, at the initiative of its mayor, Shinzo Hamai (1905–1968). As a result, the city of Hiroshima received more international attention as a desirable location for holding international conferences on peace as well as social issues. As part of that effort, the Hiroshima Interpreters' and Guide's Association (HIGA) was established in 1992 in order to facilitate interpretation for conferences, and the Hiroshima Peace Institute was established in 1998 within the Hiroshima University. The city government continues to advocate the abolition of all nuclear weapons and the Mayor of Hiroshima is the president of Mayors for Peace, an international mayoral organization mobilizing cities and citizens worldwide to abolish and eliminate nuclear weapons by the year 2020.

On May 27, 2016, President Obama visited Hiroshima as the first sitting president of USA since the drop of atomic bomb.

Climate

Unfortunately, most travelers experience Hiroshima during the worst weather of the year, in July and August, when days of heavy rain give way to brutal, muggy heat. Don't book accommodations without air conditioning if that's when you're planning to visit. Also note that in the latter half of September, warm and pleasant days are interspersed with typhoons powerful enough to wreck buildings (such as the one that nearly destroyed Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima in 2004) and keep travelers locked up in their hotels.

October and November are ideal, with less rain and cool, refreshing temperatures. The winter months are fine for a visit — the weather is dry, with very little rain or snow, and the temperatures are rarely cold enough to keep you indoors. As elsewhere in Japan, though, a number of museums are closed from 29 Dec to 1 Jan (or 3 Jan).

April and May also have excellent weather. The cherry blossoms come out in early April, and the parks around Hiroshima Castle turn into a mob scene with hanami parties.

ClimateJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
 
Daily highs (°C)101114202528313330241812
Nightly lows (°C)2251015202425211594
Precipitation (mm)4767121156157258236126180956835
             

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency.

Geography

Hiroshima is situated on the Ōta River delta, on Hiroshima Bay, facing the Seto Inland Sea on its south side. The river's six channels divide Hiroshima into several islets.

Subdivisions

Hiroshima has eight wards (ku):

WardPopulationArea (km²)Density
(per km²)
 
Aki-ku78,17694.01832 
Asakita-ku156,368353.35443
Asaminami-ku220,351117.191,880
Higashi-ku122,04539.383,099
Minami-ku138,13826.095,295
Naka-ku
(administrative center)
125,20815.348,162
Nishi-ku184,88135.675,183
Saeki-ku135,789223.98606
Population as of October 31, 2006

Internet, Comunication
  • Aprecio (アプレシオ), 10-3 Matsubara-cho,  +81 82-506-1323. 24 hours. An elegant net cafe with a wide variety of free drinks, ice cream and hot soup included in the price of admission. There's even a pool table and darts (and private showers towards the back). It's on the other side of the street from the south exit of JR Hiroshima Station, on the fifth floor of the building next to Fukuya and directly across the street from the post office.¥300 for membership; ¥180 first 30 minutes, and ¥70 every 10 minutes thereafter.
  • [email protected] (フタバ@アットカフェ), 2-22 Matsubara-cho (Right next to JR Hiroshima Station — on the sixth floor of the GIGA/Futaba Building immediately to your left as you walk out of the station (south exit).),  +81 82-568-4792. 24 hours. Free drinks and soft-serve ice cream are included in the price. Just ask for a "net open seat" (or a "game open seat" to include a PlayStation). ¥105 for membership; ¥405 first 60 minutes, then ¥94 every 15 minutes thereafter.
  • [email protected] (Kamiya-cho)2-2-33 Kamiya-cho (Kamiya-cho highashi tram stop),  +81 82-542-5455. 24 hours. Same deal as above, but closer to the Peace Park (on Hon-dori) in the Futaba Tosho Building, first floor.
  • Global Lounge (グローバルラウンジ), 1-5-17 Kamiya-cho, Naka-ku(Kamiya-cho highashi tram stop),  +81 82-244-8145. M-Th noon-9PM, F-Sa to 11PM. Part of a hodge-podge of foreigner-centric businesses — Outsider is a language school, Book Nook sells used books (albeit with a sorry selection), and the Global Lounge offers Internet access (¥200 for 15 min) and a meeting space. Coffee, tea, and soft drinks (¥200) are served, with beer and cocktails on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Hiroshima International Center (ひろしま国際センター), 8-18 Naka-machi (Crystal Plaza Building, 6th floor) (Chuden-mae tram stop), +81 82-541-3777. Tu-Sa 9AM-8:30PM, Su 9:30AM-6PM. The HIC offers an English reference library and "friendship lounge" with books, newspapers, and local info. For long-term visitors, there are free Japanese language lessons, cultural events (such as the Saturday Salons), and help with residency issues. Take the tram or bus to the Fukuro-machi stop. Entry and basic facilities are free; some events require membership or a small fee.

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