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Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

By Ana Torres |

Visit the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima and discover the meaning of 5 monuments that were built in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb during World War II.

DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, recommends you to travel to Hiroshima, in Japan. There, you can enjoy gastronomic delicacies such as the Okonomiyaki, participate in a photo shoot dressed as a samurai or geisha, or believe it or not, find a replica of the Eiffel Tower! Do you want more? Then, we invite you to visit the most iconic site in Hiroshima: the Peace Memorial Park.

Traveling to Asia always implies a process of discovery. The way in which ancient traditions combine with technology is simply impressive. Japan is, in particular, a good example of this. In this country you can find beautiful temples and shrines whose stories reflect ancient beliefs that are still alive thanks to costumes and festivities. At the same time, its biggest cities, such as Tokyo, offer great technological advances that are must-haves for lovers of travel gadgets.

Visiting Hiroshima from Tokyo

There are three ways to get to Hiroshima from the Japanese capital. You can choose the one that suits you best depending on the time available, your budget and, and your preferred transportation.

  1. You can travel by train. It takes around five hours to get to Hiroshima. Tickets for a one-way trip on the Shinkansen (Bullet train) cost around 19,000 yen. If you are interested in this option, we recommend you to buy the Japan Rail Pass. This Pass is a multi-use discount ticket that allows you to use trains, bullet trains (Shinkansen), and the Narita Express. Buy your tickets here.
  2. You can also get there by bus traveling all night. This option is cheaper since the single trip tickets cost between 5,000 and 7,500 yen. The trip lasts around 12 hours. Bus companies that travel from Tokyo to Hiroshima are the Willer Express or Chung JR Bus.
  3. Finally, you can get there by plane. In this case you should buy your tickets in advance to get a good deal. The best-known low cost airline is Japan Airlines. The cost range is around 20,000 yen per round trip, but this may vary depending on the season and the airline. Remember that will depart from Haneda airport and that the flight time will be 1.5 h.

Peace Memorial Park

Peace Memorial Park is located in the neighborhood of Nakajima, formerly considered the center of the city. It is estimated that the year when the atomic bomb was dropped 6,5000 people lived there. It is said that this place was chosen for the attack since it was easy to identify from the air due do the T shape of the Aioi bridge, located north of the Park. Evidently, after the explosion on August 6th 1945, the zone was devastated.

Almost a decade after, in 1954, the area was turned into the Peace Memorial Park, which covers 122,000 square meters.

5 Most See Attractions at Peace Memorial Park

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a reminder of all the damages caused by the World War II and the atomic bomb. Here, we invite you to visit the 5 most important attractions of the Peace Park: The Cenotaph, The Museum, The Dome, The Flame and The Monument of Children.

#1 Cenotaph of A-bomb Victims

It’s a saddle-shaped concrete structure inspired by the old houses in the region. The information tag you’ll find next to the monument explains that it commemorates the reconstruction of Hiroshima – declared City of Peace – after being the first city in the world to be destroyed by nuclear weapons. Inside the stone vault, there’s a list with the names of the victims of the a-bomb in Japan. It is also complemented by a list of people who have died as a consequence of the effects of the use of nuclear weapons. New names are added to the list every year.

#2 Hiroshima Peace Museum

It was inaugurated in 1950 with the purpose of disseminating the stories of the a-bomb victims and raising awareness about the consequences radiation caused in survivors. The main pavilion houses an exhibition of victims’ personal belongings. In the eastern wing you’ll find images of Hiroshima before and after the atomic explosion. There you’ll also find documents explaining the context of the war in which the bomb was dropped.  You can also read texts and opinions of important people who have commented on this sad event. One of them is a letter written by the ex-president of the United States, Barack Obama.

#3 Genbaku Dome

Originally, it was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall. It was built in 1915 by the Czech architect Jan Ltzel. At the end of World War II it housed the administration offices of the Japanese government. Since it was located only a few hundred meters away from the explosion, practically the whole structure was reduced to debris. The ruins were declared World Heritage in 1996 and they are preserved thanks to restoration and conservation works.

#4 The Flame of Peace

It is a symbolic space that reinforces the intention and meaning of the Cenotaph and the Dome inside the Park. The flame has been burning since it was lit  on August 1st, 1964. It symbolizes the hope for a world without nuclear weapons. It is said that the flame will continue to burn until nuclear weapons worldwide disappear.

#5 Children’s Peace Monument

This is another emblematic monument inside the park. Sadako Sasaki was a victim of the nuclear attack. After her death, her classmates raised funds to design and build a monument to mourn all the children who died from the atomic bombing.  The project was so successful that more than 3,000 schools, including schools from other countries, supported the cause. Finally, enough money was raised, and the bronze statue was built in the Park.

 

The monument was created by the Japanese artists Kikuchi Kazuo and Ikebe Kiyoshi, and it was completed in May 1958. Today it is one of the most popular sites inside the Park to leave small offerings and flowers. The monument is 9 meters high and has an oval shape. It’s similar to an elongated shell that is held at its base by three legs. At the base you will find an inscription on black marble that says: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. For building peace in this world”. Beneath the structure there’s a bell called Bell of Peace, and a bronze crane that works as a wind chime. At the top it has a human figure that represents Sadako Sasaki, holding a golden crane. For this reason the monument is also known as “The Tower of a Thousand Cranes”. Do you want to know more about the story of Sadako Sasaki and the cranes? Keep reading!

The Thousand Paper Cranes

One of the victims of the a-bomb in Hiroshima was Sadako Sasaki, who was only two at the time of the explosion. Even though she survived, at the age of 12 she was diagnosed with leukaemia as a consequence of the bomb’s radiation.

It is said that when Sadako was hospitalized and fighting against her disease, a friend told her a story about 1,000 origami cranes. According to the story, if you wish for something and make 1,000 origami cranes, your wish will come true. That was how Sadako decided to make a thousand cranes hoping she would be cured. Unfortunately, this never happened. She passed away on October 1955, having made only 644 origami cranes. Her friends and family learned how to make origami cranes and ended the mission of making 1,000 cranes in her honor. Three years after Sadako’s passing, the children of Hiroshima built a statue in her memory.

Boat Ride along Motoyasu River

Without doubt, this trip invites to reflection. Peace Memorial Park is characterized by having a peaceful and quiet environment. DINKtravelers recommends you to end your visit to Hiroshima by relaxing among nature. The best way to do this is by going on a boat ride along the river that crosses the city: Motoyasugawa River. There are many boarding points, many of which are found inside the Park. The landscape and slow current of the river create the perfect athmosphere to say goodbye to this wonderful city.

If you travel to Hiroshima in spring, prepare your camera because you’ll be delighted to find many cherry blossom trees (sakura) along the riverbank. Don’t forget to share your experience with us!