Welcome to Hiroshima!
Hiroshima was the next and final stop on our grand Japanese adventure, before we returned to Tokyo for a few days.
Hiroshima is beautiful. It is impeccably clean, modern and filled with kind and caring people.
When walking the streets of the city, it is hard to imagine the damage and destruction this city faced 70 years ago, Hiroshima is rebuilt, Hiroshima feels like the future.
One thing I didn’t realise was how hard it would be to write this post. Some of the issues discussed may be distressing to read about.
All over the city you will find silver signs like this. These are often posted next to something damaged from the bombing, or related in some way. For example, this flame has been burning since a memorial for the anniversary of the bombing many years ago.
Click this image to see it larger, so you can read the description of the monument. I recommend doing this for every picture of text in this post.
Our hotel was located right by the picturesque river bank. These were busy in the daytime, many people sat in the sun and let the day pass them by! I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend the day! We bought breakfast from a 7/11 and ate it beneath a sakura tree, I think I had an iced coffee and a chocolate cornet.
Last year I read a book detailing a few survivor’s recounts of the bombing, one part has always stuck out in my mind, never more so than being sat next to the river.
A survivor recounted that many of the burned victims moved to the banks of the river, many attempted to clean their wounds, many lay down and could not get up. This survivor ferried as many across the river as he could, and moved as many as he could further from the river to prevent the tide from taking them.
However, the river came further up the banks than expected. A lot of people drowned here, unable to move themselves to safety.
Typing this is tough, but being there was even harder. It’s a sensation I cannot put down into mere words, I feel like it would be an injustice to Hiroshima to sum up those emotions in a few little adjectives.
Many of the signs feature an English translation, most of the time these were spot on, however with a few you had to get the gist as best you could due to some translation errors.
You look at this vibrant city, full of people and life, and it is so hard to imagine the disaster that befell it.
Paper cranes feature on so many Hiroshima monuments, these are donated from all over the world, sent en mass by schools, religious organisations, or just someone wishing to pay their respects.
Hiroshima advocates for peace, and the end of war.
After visiting, I couldn’t agree more. War is unjustifiable, and I’m sad that the true reality of it didn’t hit me until coming to somewhere like this.
I’ve visited some tough places before, like Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. However, the sheer scale of Hiroshima is what will affect you so truly. The mass amounts of needless deaths.
We can all say we disagree with war and that it doesn’t solve much, but it feels so different to be learning about how feeble it is in a place so scarred.
This monument features the Goddess of Peace, her purpose is to represent peace for all religions.
The world famous A Dome.
The bomb detonated directly above this office building back in 1945. There were no survivors in this build, nor any in the area apart from one man who was in the basement of the only other surviving building in this area of Hiroshima.
The rest of the people were vapourized, the buildings destroyed.
The dome is kept to look exactly as it did after the detonation. This requires a large amount of maintenance, in the hopes it will stand forever as a mark of the destruction, and the determination of Hiroshima to stay standing.
The A-Bomb Dome is probably the thing we all relate most to Hiroshima, and so it was quite a big moment to see it up close. This thing I’ve seen in TV, books, online countless times was standing there in front of me, much smaller than I expected, but much more grand in every other way.
See the orange netting? Maintenance work was going on inside to keep the structure standing and safe. You aren’t allowed beyond the fence, for your safety and the building’s.
The dome is right on the river bank, it amazed me how many people were sat enjoying life as normal around the dome.
For me, this was some big moment that made me feel a plethora of emotions, but for those from Hiroshima, it is but another day.
I love this picture, two women on their lunch chatting and laughing beside the riverside with the dome behind them, with the past behind them! The people of Hiroshima are so resilient and forward thinking. They will never let the tragedy be forgotten, but they do not let it rule every moment of their lives!I love the city, everyone in Hiroshima was so kind, so cheerful and pleasant to be around. It really made me think about how I was viewing the city, as some place a disaster had befell and that was it. Not a place people lived, died, grow old, have families, fall in love, enjoy life! And maybe that is what is so scary and horrific about the bombing, it can happen anywhere, in a city like your’s and mine!
I hope the dome stands forever, and I hope that as many people as possible can see it. It is yet another part of Hiroshima that makes you realise how fucking terrible war is.
I’ve always been against war, but after being in Hiroshima, and learning so much more about what happened, I have no idea how it can EVER be justified. Nothing can justify the murder, and that’s what it is, not warfare, of 200,000 civilians.
And the excuses of ‘the war ended sooner because of the bombings’ has been disproven time and time again, Japan’s surrender was imminent without the bombings.
Turn away from the A dome and life continues as normal.
You can head right down to the river thanks to a few little staircases!
The Peace Clock Tower is one of Hiroshima’s most famous memorials.
The Memorial Park is full of many statues, sign posts, small buildings, etc. all to remember the tragedy, those lost and those affected. You can easily spend hours walking around, you’ll find more and more at every turn.
I made sure to toll the bell of peace! I’d recommend doing it!
I connected with Sadako’s story a long time ago, when Victoria of InTheFrow was travelling Japan actually, and she posted an Instagram of the monument. The story of Sadako has stuck with me ever since, I think about her multiple times a week. I don’t think her story will ever leave me.
Now thousands of paper cranes arrive in Hiroshima every year, as Sadako folded 1,000 paper cranes to make her wish of recovery from disease caused by the radiation of the bomb. Sadly her wish did not come true. She, and all the other children who suffered due to the bomb and it’s after effects are remembered forever in the cranes.
To add some context to where we are right now, that building is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, so it isn’t far from the children’s moment!
We sadly were stuck behind a large tourist group when trying to navigate the area leading up to the park! I wish it had been an English tour group for us to learn more about the area.
The Peace Watch Tower really resonated with me for some reason. Seeing that at the time it had only been 3 or so months since a nuclear test really affected me.
A small fee of 200 yen is required to enter, I would have been happy to pay WAY more for the contents of the museum and to assist it in it’s upkeep.
Sadly a large part was under construction, so there wasn’t too much to see, however what we did see was very harrowing. I haven’t included too many pictures as I wished to simply experience it rather than be constantly on my camera. I didn’t want to disturb people in quiet areas with my camera shutter, and to be honest, I was so shocked by the things I was seeing that taking photographs wasn’t really on my mind,
One of the first features is a scale model of the explosion and the immediate aftermath. Around it are models of people who would have been rather close and exposed to extreme doses of radiation, leaving their clothes and skin in tatters.
Many items are in cases which were found in the aftermath, these belonged to people who sadly perished. It was tough to see children’s clothing that they were wearing as they died. What is even sadder is the amount of it on display, and that’s a tiny fraction of the devastation we can see.
Another feature which I was taken aback by is the roof tiles which were heated to such a temperature that they boiled before solidifying. You can touch these, I felt hesitant but did. It was bizarre to just outright touch something heavily damaged by a nuclear explosion.
Dotted around near the museum and all over the park are many statues and memorials.
This one is for Korean victims of the bombing.
This memorial mound affected me deeply also. To be honest, it all did, as it would. It’s something so horrific, so cruel, so unimaginable, but it happened in this city.
That ended our tour around the Memorial areas, so now read on for some other things we did to lift our spirits!
I mentioned above about the only other surviving building in the area of Hiroshima directly beneath the bomb’s detonation, that is now a rest house which sells snacks and gifts! I bought a few hand folded paper cranes as souvenirs, and also the above.
Fae and I could not believe how popular the prequel movies are in Japan, since the rest of the world seems to hate them with a passion. Thanks to the Clone Wars and various novels, Fae and I are certified prequel trash, so we loved getting Prequel chocolate ice cream sandwiches!
Mine is Anakin, Fae’s is General Grievous.
We headed out of the park in aim of the Pokemon Center! Hiroshima city centre seems very close together, so we were able to walk directly there without the use of subways!
It reminded me of Liverpool, as you can sort of get anywhere in Liverpool’s city centre without use of public transport.
The Hiroshima Pokemon Center’s mascot is shiny Gyarados! This center isn’t very old, I remember there being a large Red Gyarados promotion around the time of it’s opening!
Like many centers, there is a wall with art of all of the Pokemon! I took a photo of some I liked, all of Deoxys’ formes, Empoleon + Luxray, as well as one I had photographed at many other centers, Buizel!!!
Well it turns out I didn’t take many photographs in there…but I hope you enjoyed an extremely brief look at the Pokemon Center.
Hiroshima is a magnificent city, there is so much to see and to learn about. I’m so glad we visited, it really did add a lot to our trip. I don’t think you need too much time there, we pretty much had a day exploring Hiroshima and a day exploring Miyajima Island, which you will read about next time!
Catch up on the rest of my Japan posts here: