Sights & Landmarks in Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Park
Most of the memorials related to the atomic bomb are in and around the Peace Memorial Park (平和公園 Heiwa-kōen), reachable by tram line 2 or 6 toGenbaku Dome-mae. Coming from JR Hiroshima Station, you'll see the Peace Park on your left just before crossing the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, which is thought to have been the target of the bomb.
Once part of the busy Nakajima merchant district, this area was destroyed almost in its entirety by the bomb. Today, there are more than fifty memorials, statues, and other structures in the Park. Some will be obscure in their meaning; others are immediate and devastating. There is no entry fee, save for the Peace Memorial Museum, and access to the grounds is not restricted at night.
- The skeletal remains of the A-Bomb Dome (原爆ドームGenbaku Dōmu) are the most recognizable symbol of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima. In another lifetime, the building was one of the city's best-known sights for an entirely different reason; designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel in 1915, the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall (and its fanciful green dome) had a bold European style in a grimy, crowded city with few modern flourishes. Because the explosion took place almost directly above the building, the walls remained largely intact, even as the dome shattered and the people inside were killed by the heat of the blast. Initially, as the city rebuilt, it was left alone simply because it was more difficult to demolish than other remains in the area; gradually, the A-Bomb Dome became the symbol it is today. The "Hiroshima Peace Memorial" was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996 amid some controversy — the United States and China both voted against the nomination for reasons related to the war. Today, the benches around the Dome are a favorite spot for Hiroshima natives to read, eat lunch, or simply relax.
- One block east of the A-Bomb Dome (outside Shima Clinic) is a plaque which marks the hypocenter, the exact point above which the bomb exploded.
- The Children's Peace Monument (原爆の子の像 Genbaku no ko no zō) is perennially draped in thousands of origami paper cranes folded by schoolchildren across Japan in the memory of the young bomb victim Sadako Sasaki.
- The Memorial Tower to the Mobilized Students commemorates the 6,300 students who were conscripted to work in munitions factories and killed in the atomic bomb. There are statues of doves scattered throughout its five levels; at the base is a beautiful Kannon statue, always draped with origami cranes.
- Tens of thousands of forced laborers from Korea were working in Hiroshima at the time of the attack. But the Monument in Memory of the Korean Victims of the A-Bomb was erected outside the Peace Park in 1970, and only moved within its boundaries in 1999. Today, the turtle at the base of the monument — symbolically carrying the dead to the afterlife — tends to be draped in his fair share of colorful origami cranes and flowers.
- The Peace Bell is engraved with a world map, drawn without borders to symbolize unity. The public are welcomed to ring the bell — not coincidentally, the log is aimed to strike an atomic symbol. (Ring the bell gently, so as not to damage it.)
- The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound holds the ashes of 70,000 bomb victims who were unidentified or had no living relatives to claim them. Services are held in their memory on the 6th of every month.
- The Rest House was known as the Taishoya Kimono Shop at the time of the explosion. Only one employee, who was in the basement at the time, survived. However, the reinforced concrete building stayed mostly intact. (The interior has been entirely refurbished, but the preserved basement is possible to visit with advance request.) Today, it holds a gift shop, some vending machines, a helpful tourist information office, and — as the name would suggest — a place to rest.
- Inside the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims is a stone chest with a registry that is intended to contain the names of every known person who died from the bombing, regardless of nationality. (Names are added as hibakusha pass away from diseases thought related to the radiation of the bomb.) The Japanese inscription reads, "Let all the souls here rest in peace, for the evil shall not be repeated." Note how the arch frames the A-Bomb Dome in the distance.
- At the other end of the pond from the Cenotaph is the Flame of Peace (平和の灯heiwa no tomoshibi). It is said that the fire will burn until the last nuclear weapon is gone from the earth.
- Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, 1-6 Nakajima-chō, Naka-ku, . Mar-Jul 8:30AM-6PM, Aug 8:30AM-7PM, Sep-Nov 8:30AM-6PM, Dec-Feb 8:30AM-5PM, closed Dec 29-Jan 1. The Peace Memorial Hall is dedicated to collecting names and photographs of people who died in the blast. The entrance of the museum leads downward to a quiet hall for contemplation, and then back up again to a set of kiosks with compelling stories and recollections from survivors (in English and Japanese). Like the Cenotaph and the Peace Memorial Museum, it was designed by architect Kenzo Tange. Free.
- Peace Memorial Museum (平和記念資料館 Heiwa Kinen Shiryōkan), 1-2 Nakajima-chō, Naka-ku, , e-mail:[email protected]. Mar-Jul 8:30AM-6PM, Aug 8:30AM-7PM, Sep-Nov 8:30AM-6PM, Dec-Feb 8:30AM-5PM, closed Dec 30-31. This heart-wrenching museum documents the atomic bomb and its aftermath, from scale models of the city "before" and "after" to melted tricycles and other displays and artifacts related to the blast. Some are extremely graphic, evocative, and quite disturbing. The rest of the museum describes the post-war struggles of the hibakusha and an appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons in the world today. Be warned: a visit here, while absolutely worthwhile, will ruin your day. Allow plenty of time afterward to decompress. ¥50 adults, ¥30 students and children; audio guides cost extra.
- International Conference Center, 1-5 Nakajima-chō, Naka-ku, . 9AM-9PM daily. At the south end of the Peace Park, this complex of buildings has an International Exchange Lounge with English-language publications and city information; it also has the Restaurant Serenade ( +81 82-240-7887, 10AM-7PM).
- The Statue of Mother and Child in the Storm, completed in 1960 by artist Shin Hongo, is among the most powerful works of art created in response to the atomic bomb. It depicts a woman shielding her child from the black rain. It's in front of theFountain of Prayer just south of the Peace Memorial Museum.
- The Gates of Peace were installed in 2005 on Heiwa-o-dori, just south of the Peace Park, by a pair of French artists. On the sidewalk and the surface of the gates, the word "peace" is written in 49 languages. The ten gates are meant to represent the nine circles of hell from Dante's Inferno, plus a new one: the hell created by the atomic bombing.
Outside the Peace Park
- As you explore the city and outskirts, keep an eye out for maroon-colored marblehistorical markers such as the one outside the A-Bomb Dome or the one marking the Hypocenter, which have photographs and text in both Japanese and English. You'll come across markers as far as a few miles away from the Peace Park — which lends perspective to the distance and extent of the damage.
- Honkawa Elementary School Peace Museum (本川小学校平和資料館), 1-5-39 Honkawa-chō, Naka-ku (Genbaku Dome-mae tram stop), .Open during school hours. Of the more than 400 students and teachers who were in the school when the bomb exploded, only one student and one teacher survived. After a new school was built, this section of the original structure was kept as a museum, housing a small collection of photos and artifacts. Free.
- Fukuro-machi Elementary School Museum (袋町小学校平和資料館), 6-36 Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku (Fukuro-machi tram stop), . 9AM-5PM daily. Like Honkawa, part of the original school building that remained standing after the atomic bomb has been converted into a museum. In the days after the explosion, survivors used the school's chalk to leave messages for lost friends and family members on its blackened walls. Free.
- After the A-Bomb Dome, the former Bank of Japan at 5-16 Fukuro-machi, Naka-ku (Fukuro-machi tram stop) is the best-known pre-bomb structure in Hiroshima. Built in 1936, the city's main branch of the Nippon Ginko was only 380 meters from the hypocenter; although its exterior remained intact, all 42 people inside the bank were killed by the heat of the blast. Remarkably, the bank was back in service only two days after the bomb and continued operation until 1992, when it was acquired by the city. Occasional art exhibitions are now held there. Hours of access are irregular, but it's worth stopping by to check.
- Somewhat incongruously, the 1925 Hiroshima Mitsui Bank at 7-1 Hon-dori, Naka-ku (Hon-dōri tram stop) also survived the blast, and now serves as home of a busy Andersen Bakery. The ground-level renovations and the ceiling of the Hon-dori arcade combine to obscure its age, but there's a historical marker on the corner. Stepping out of Hon-dori to the side street gives a better view of the building — and how the city rebuilt around it.
- There is a fascinating, little-known pre-bomb house on the outskirts of Hijiyama Park. Walk up toward the park on the street branching upward from the Hijiyamashita tram stop. You'll see a temple on your left with a historical marker out front. Just past the temple is a set of stone steps, leading up to a small house and explanatory plaque. (Notice the vane at the top of the house, warped from the heat of the bomb.) Please note that while visitors are welcome in the front yard, the rest of the area is private property, including the house itself.
- From the Shinkansen side of JR Hiroshima Station, you'll see an enigmatic silver tower on Futaba-yama, the mountain ahead. That's the Peace Pagoda (Busshari-to), built in 1966 in memory of those killed by the atomic bomb. To reach it, simply head uphill on the main street facing away from the station. You'll pass through a quiet, pleasant neighborhood of cafes and hillside houses, climb steps, and eventually reach Toshogu Shrine. Follow the road around the shrine and you'll reach the red lanterns and torii of Kinko Inari Shrine. Head through the gates and up the steps to reach the Peace Pagoda. It's an even more impressive sight from the top of the mountain; inside the Pagoda are two gifts containing ashes of the Buddha, which were a gift to Hiroshima from India and a group of Mongolian Buddhists, along with thousands of prayer stones. You'll also be able to see the whole jumble of the city below.
Chuo Park area
- Chuo Park (中央公園), Naka-ku (Genbaku dome-mae tram stop). A big, sprawling green space in the middle of the city. Broadly defined, the park grounds include many of the attractions below, including the castle and the Carp's old baseball stadium (scheduled for demolition). But Chuo Park is worthy of note in its own right, with nice, long walking paths and athletic fields — there are quite a lot of open-invitation soccer, football, and ultimate frisbee games that are regularly held here, so don't be shy about showing up with athletic shoes and seeing if anyone needs an extra.
- Hiroshima Castle (広島城 Hiroshima-jō), 21-1 Moto-machi, Naka-ku (Genbaku dome-mae tram stop), . Mar-Nov 9AM-6PM, Dec-Feb 9AM-5PM. The original Carp Castle (Rijō) was built in the 1590s by Hideyoshi's warlord Terumoto Mōri, predating the city itself. It was destroyed by the atomic bomb, by which time it was serving as a military headquarters, and reconstructed in 1958. Some of the original concrete foundations can still be seen. Today, the castle grounds are a nice place for a walk, and definitely Hiroshima's favorite place forhanami (cherry blossom parties), with more than 350 sakura trees. The five-story castle museum is an attractive reconstruction of the 16th century donjon, with interesting relics and armor to see (and try on), as well as some informative displays about the history of the castle and the city. The view from the top is worth the entrance fee all by itself. ¥370 adults, ¥180 children.
- Gokoku Shrine (護国神社 Gokoku-jinja), 2-21 Motomachi, Naka-ku (Genbaku dome-mae tram stop), . Located on the castle grounds, this concrete shrine has great significance to locals, having been rebuilt after the atomic blast and now the center for most annual Shinto traditions in the city. But other than a historical marker, there's not much to see for travelers, other than festivals (especially New Year's Eve).
- Hiroshima Children's Museum (広島市こども文化科学館), 5-83 Motomachi, Naka-ku (Genbaku dome-mae tram stop), . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM.Great fun for kids, with hand-on science exhibits and a planetarium on the top floor. There's also a library with a few shelves of English language books. ¥500 adults, ¥250 children.
- Hiroshima Museum of Art (ひろしま美術館), 3-2 Motomachi, Naka-ku(Kamiya-cho nishi/higashi tram stops), . 9AM-5PM daily.Established by the Hiroshima Bank in 1978. The permanent collection covers European art from late Romanticism to early Picasso, including a couple of Japanese painters who painted in Western styles. There's at least one painting by every famous artist of the period, but no major works by any of them. ¥1000 adults, ¥500 teens, ¥200 children.
Hijiyama Park area
- Hijiyama Park (比治山公園), Minami-ku (Hijiyamashita tram stop). A huge park to the south of JR Hiroshima Station, between two branches of the river. (Follow Ekimae-dori from the station to the southeast, and you'll walk directly into it.) There are the usual areas for sitting in the sun (and rather a lot of stray cats), but much of the park remains refreshingly undeveloped forest, save for a futuristic tunnel to SATY, a neighboring shopping complex and movie theater.
- Hiroshima City Manga Library (広島市立まんが図書館), 1-4 Hijiyama-koen, Minami-ku (Hijiyamashita tram stop), . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM.Around the corner from the Museum of Contemporary Art (below). The vast majority of the manga are in Japanese, of course, but they do have a selection of Western superhero comics. Free.
- Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (広島市現代美術館), 1-1 Hijiyama-koen, Minami-ku (Hijiyamashita tram stop), . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. Probably the most deserving of a visit among Hiroshima's art museums. There are a few famous Western names in its collection, including Andy Warhol and Frank Stella, but the real focus is on interesting modern Japanese artists working in their own styles, and the exhibition designers make creative use of the museum space. Special exhibitions cost extra. There is a sculpture garden outside that can be visited for free, and a decent city-view from the plaza near the museum's front steps. ¥360 adults, ¥270 college students, and ¥170 for other students.
- Fudoin (不動院), 3-4-9 Ushita Shin-machi, Higashi-ku(Astram to Fudoin-mae), . Only a short trip north of the city, this 14th century temple is another of the few structures in the area to have survived the atomic blast. The Main Hall is an impressive sight, and both the bell tower and the two-story gate are regarded as cultural treasures. Free.
- Hiroshima City Transportation Museum (広島市交通科学館), 2-12-2 Chorakuji, Asaminami-ku (Astram to Chorakuji Station), . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. Located on the outskirts of the city, the Transportation Museum has exhibits and interactive games about planes, trains, ships, and cars of the past, present, and future — and a transit nerd's treasure trove of details about the history and model numbers of Hiroshima's streetcars. (Tram #654, which remained in service after the atomic blast, is on display.) Outside, behind the museum, there is a track with odd bicycles to ride. It's great fun for children. Free on the first floor, elsewhere ¥500 adults, ¥250 children.
- Hiroshima Prefectural Museum of Art (広島県立美術館), 2-22 Kaminobori-cho, Naka-ku (Shukkeien-mae tram stop), . Tu-Su 9AM-5PM, Sa to 7PM. Has a good permanent collection of modern European art, including major works by Dali and Magritte, and a few modern Japanese artists as well. Special exhibitions are of a generally high quality, ranging from Persian carpets toThe Legend of Ultraman. It's located in front of Shukkeien. ¥500 adults, ¥300 for college students, children free.
- Mazda Museum (マツダミュージアム), 3-1 Mukainada-chō, Fuchū, . Tours weekdays 9:30AM and 1PM in Japanese, 10AM in English, lasting around 90 minutes. Space is limited, and they ask that you call first to make a reservation. Bookings can be made in English. Mazda's corporate headquarters are a short distance outside of Hiroshima. The tour is a must for any automobile fan, but if you have any serious technical questions, then you should go on the Japanese tour and bring along your own interpreter, as there's less detail on the English tour. Highlights include the Mazda Cosmos (the world's first car with a rotary engine) and the 4-Rotor Mazda 787B, which is the only Japanese car to win at Le Mans. From there you will be taken to their Ujina plant and the actual assembly line, with a look at some of their concept vehicles. From JR Hiroshima Station, take the San'yo Line in the direction of Saijō or Mihara to JR Mukainada Station (two stops); cross the rails and exit through the south exit. From the train station exit, head straight on the street a little to the right of the exit until you see the confusingly labelled pharmacy, called "Zoom-Zoom". Head down the stairs opposite Zoom Zoom into an underpass and you'll exit in the Mazda Admin building's parking lot. Free.
- Mitaki-dera (三瀧寺), 411 Mitaki-yama, Nishi-ku, . Originally founded in 809 AD, Mitaki-dera is a tranquil, lovely temple to the west of Hiroshima, known for its three waterfalls, which supply the water for the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony, as well as its gorgeous autumn colors and fascinating statues. The tahoto (treasure pagoda) was moved here from Wakayama in 1951 and consecrated in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb. From JR Hiroshima Station, take the Kabe Line to JR Mitaki Station. It's a short walk and hike from there. Free.
- Shukkeien (縮景園), 2-11 Kami-noborimachi, Naka-ku (Shukkeien-mae tram stop), . 9AM-5PM daily, April to 6PM. While not officially one of Japan's Top 3, this compact and beautifully landscaped Japanese garden is well worth a visit, and an ideal place to decompress from the atomic bomb sites. Despite more and more high-rises peeping over the trees recently, Shukkeien can feel like an entirely different world, with little paths crossing ponds on bridges and winding their way around graceful teahouses and waterfalls. It's directly behind the Prefectural Art Museum, and combined admission tickets are available.¥250.
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