There are several sites to see when visiting Hiroshima Peace Park. However, my approach has always been more straight forward and succinct, so as not to clutter what’s essential. Below are my choices for what to see at the Hiroshima Peace Park.
The three locations I will highlight are:
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Atomic Bomb Dome
Examining Hiroshima through the eye of applied history I want to give my reader a more hands on approach when visiting this area, and to give you a much broader take on historical landmarks. Let’s start with why the subject of Hiroshima is such a sensitive topic. The first reason why is because we know the man whose hand loosed the atomic bomb. We know he died unapologetic and without conscience for the many victims whose lives he took away in a flash of light.
It is said that when visiting Japan one must visit Hiroshima for its rich history and culture. Most westerners, and Japanese, who journey to this part of the country visit such monuments as the Genpaku Dome and the Memorial Museum in order to pay respects to the millions of victims, mainly women and children, who were be fallen by America’s atomic bombs. I too paid my respects, but I did so knowing how powerful and how beautiful the Japanese soul is to be able to rise up from the ashes of such devastation.
The first place on my list is The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. It is not a place for the weak at heart. It is a museum and a mausoleum all comprised into one. It is a place that grips you emotionally and causes you to ask why human beings do the things that we do, and why do the innocent suffer for it. In this museum one can see for themselves the imagery of death and desolation. The misery that was caused by a single bomb by the hand of one pilot that left such destruction is almost incalculable in terms of scope and breadth. We can see the effects of radiation on children, and charred human remains of mothers carrying their babies. The museum is open everyday from 8:30am to 5pm.
The Hiroshima Peace Park is a welcome respite from the carnage left on display in the museum, and is a place steeped in natural beauty. The park stretched far and wide in all directions and is beautifully maintained with long flowing walk ways along a small waterway. You can have a nice picnic out there if you like. The park is full of school children during the day, and at night you can enjoy the light up around the whole park.
The Atomic Bomb Dome, or the Commercial Exhibition Hall, housed government officials. This building is the single most iconic symbol left from the destruction of the first atomic bomb. If you were within a twenty-mile radius when the bomb went off you were killed instantly, hence, a testament to the destructive force of one hydrogen bomb changed the whole world forever. The dome is lit up at night and is a huge draw for those seeking another perspective of the exhibition hall.
The Cenotaph means “empty tomb,” was built by Kenzo Tange, the father of Tokyo, to commemorate the 200,000 plus lost souls of the first blast. Every year on August 6th, the day the bomb dropped, millions of visitors from around the world pay their respects at the Cenotaph. This is a hallowed place. I highly recommend stopping by here even if it’s just to snap a photo and to offer a moment of silence.
But these gloomy monuments are not all Hiroshima is famous for, and it shouldn’t be always about macabre scenes in history either. If there are two things that Hiroshima is very famous for, its okonomiyaki (Japanese hot cake) and oysters! Hiroshima is perhaps the only place where you can have them both on the same plate; oyster okonomiyaki. But, there are millions of okonomiyaki shops in Hiroshima. Where should you go?
Well, let’s go to the heart of Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki district: “Shintenchi Okono Mimura a place that’s practically littered with dozens of great okonomiyaki shops. So, which one should I try? Again, careful research and word of mouth drew me to my conclusion: Henkutsuya which has been in operation since 1947 and was originally a “yatai” (food stall) style eatery specializing in oyster okonomiyaki. If you love the taste of layered hot cakes stuffed with seafood, noodles, and eggs you’ll love okonomiyaki.
Hiroshima can be reached by the bullet train from Tokyo in six hours, or you can fly. There’s plenty of public transportation to get you just about anywhere. Most of Hiroshima’s famous landmarks can be accessed on foot or by bicycle rental. I recommend just spending a half a day at the Memorial Park taking pictures and brushing up a little on the local history. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a comment. Thanks for reading.