In Hiroshima Prefecture there is a beautiful castle; “Hiroshima-jo”, created as a residence for the Daimyo (feudal lord) Mōri Terumoto in the year 1590. At that time Hiroshima did not exist as such, but was called Gokamura, which means “five villages”.
Gokamura was later renamed Hiroshima because a more shocking name was thought of. “Hiro” was taken from Ōe no Hiromoto, an ancestor of the Mōri family and “Shima” from Fukushima Motonaga, who helped Mōri Terumoto choose the place where the castle would be erected. Hiroshima literally means “wide island”.
Hiroshima-jo’s location was chosen as a location with convenient access to both water and land transportation. At that time, large-scale construction work began on the castle’s structures, including its stone walls, fences, towers. Thus, progress was also made in the surrounding territory.
Although Mori would be demoted by the Tokugawa shogunate after the Battle of Sekigahara, Hiroshima Castle continued to be held throughout the Edo period by successive feudal lords, from Masanori Fukushima to Nagaakira Asano, whose clan would control the castle, and with it, the dominion for twelve generations. From the 17th century until the Meiji Restoration (1869), Hiroshima Castle experienced a period of peace after the chaos and wars of previous decades.
Even during the dismantling of many castles in the time of the Meiji Restoration, when wooden and iron accessories from these feudal fortresses were sold to raise funds, the Japanese government saved the “Tent Castle” and turned it into a military base for the Imperial Army.
Starting in 1888, this building was used as Headquarters of the Fifth Division and during the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895 as Imperial Headquarters, which housed the supreme military command. His Majesty The Meiji Emperor traveled to Hiroshima and settled for seven months at the base of Hiroshima Castle. Thanks to this, the city flourished even more and became a kind of capital of Japan. It also grew economically and industrially. The castle was designated “National Treasure” in 1931.
On August 6, 1945, the United States Army dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, completely destroying the beautiful castle and annihilating more than 5,000 people working at the military base.
With the aim of raising awareness of Hiroshima and its history, this National Historic Site rose from ruins in 1958, with four floors of exhibits. The castle was built in the image and likeness of the original, only now it is a museum.
Each floor has different exhibits that portray Hiroshima through images, objects, documents, and so on. On the first floor, there is a display about ancient Hiroshima, the history of the castle, its government, life inside the castle, its defense and you can even appreciate different castles in the world. On the second floor, the exhibits further express the daily life and culture of the city, including the lifestyle of samurai versus the people. On the third floor, there are different weapons and armor displays. The life and progress of the castle are exhibited on the fourth floor. The fifth floor is an observatory that allows you to admire the city and the castle area from the top of the castle. A spectacular sight.
Currently, the museum holds special exhibits about seven times a year, as well as other activities aimed at raising awareness about Hiroshima and the history of Hiroshima. The reconstruction of the outer wooden citadel was completed in 1994 and at the same time, the stone walls and internal fences of the castle, which had remained intact since before the Edo Period, were designated as historical sites.
The Hiroshima-jo or Hiroshima Castle is a symbol of the city and a highly recommended place for people interested in beauty and history.