The area currently known as Peace Memorial Park, was previously an urban district called Nakajima. During the Edo Era (1603-1868), it was considered a thriving commercial center where goods that were transported by boats on rivers were unloaded and then sold or shipped elsewhere by land. In the Meiji era (1868-1912), it was the political, administrative and commercial heart of Hiroshima, home to the Hiroshima City Hall, the Prefectural Office and the central distribution facilities.
It is estimated that at the time of the atomic bombing, some 6,500 people lived in the seven cho (neighborhood units) in Nakajima district. On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb in history exploded directly over this area. In addition to the usual inhabitants, thousands of volunteer members of the army corps and mobilized students were on the scene demolishing buildings for a line of fire. Almost all of these lives were extinguished when the entire District instantly disappeared.
On August 6, 1949, with the enactment of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Building Act, it was decided that the entire Nakajima district would be dedicated to ‘peace memorial facilities’, and that was the beginning of what is now Peace Memorial Park. The park covers approximately 122,100 square meters. It was designed by Kenzo Tange, a professor at the University of Tokyo, and three other people, whose entry was selected through a design competition that attracted 145 entries.
At the southern end of the park is a line of three buildings: the East Building, the Main Building of the Peace Memorial Museum, and the Hiroshima International Conference Center.
ALTHOUGH THE SYMBOL OF A NATIONAL TRAGEDY, THE PARK MEMORIAL DE LA PAZ DOES NOT INVITE SAD, BUT ENCOURAGES ME TO LOOK AT A BRIGHTER FUTURE.
On August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb in history on Hiroshima, Japan, targeting the intersection of bridges over the Honkawa and Motoyasu rivers. The bomb devastated Hiroshima within a 5 km radius, resulting in 140,000-150,000 deaths in December of that year.
Kenzo Tange was commissioned with the challenge of designing the reconstruction of Hiroshima. By designing the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park, Tange expressed the solidarity of humanity and symbolized a commitment to peace. Beyond rest.
The Japanese are not the type to stop at disasters, but to recover immediately, with their heads held high. On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima changed forever. However, instead of an ending, the bombardment unleashed a new era. Suddenly and dramatically presented with destruction, the city adopted a new philosophy of pacifism.
However, sadness does not prevail in the park. As long as the sky is blue, there is nothing to disturb the tranquility of the open pastures where families and couples stop to enjoy the park. On the other side of the site, from the dome, stands a cenotaph monument, or empty tomb, with the names of the victims.
Protected by an arch that takes on the symbolism of Shinto to protect the souls of the dead, it is aligned with the flame of peace, burning since 1964, when it was first lit. The inscription “May all souls rest here in peace, because we will not repeat evil” appears on the monument, calling all humanity to never forget the horrors of Hiroshima so that it does not repeat itself. The poignant perspective of these three strong symbols of disaster ends with the Peace Memorial Museum, where the alignment of the ark, flame and dome come together.
There are almost 50 memorials in and around the park built by schools, workers’ organizations and other groups. Here are some of them:
Cenotaph for the victims of the atomic bomb
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The dome of the atomic bomb
Monument to children’s peace
In the center of the park, between the Honkawa and Motoyasu river bridges, near the memorial tower for mobilized students, there is a monument dedicated to children. Probably the most poignant place in the park, this monument pays tribute to the hundreds of young people who were taken from us too soon. The story of Sadako Sasaki (1943-1955) and her perseverance and hope resonates with this monument. This girl, a survivor of the disaster, lived until 1955 when leukemia took her life.
According to Japanese legend, anyone who makes a thousand origami cranes can get their wish; With this hope, Sadako tirelessly began folding sheets of colored paper. Unfortunately, she died before completing the task, having manufactured six hundred and forty-four cranes. Hundreds of other children were inspired, and the origami cranes became a symbol of peace at the monument that features a girl at the top, overlooking a bronze bell.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall for the victims of the atomic bomb
Aogiri trees exposed to bombardment
Hiroshima Municipal Girls’ High School Atomic Bomb Memorial
Memorial in memory of the Korean victims of the atomic bomb
Monument dedicated to Tōge Sankichi
Bell of peace
Whether through small daily tributes left at each monument, or at large gatherings such as the Remembrance ceremony, visitors to this memorial park humbly show their respect for the victims and their hope in the future prevention of such a tragedy. With compassion, these atrocities can be rejected by the people, and now by an entire city.
This is a highly recommended place to visit while traveling in Japan.