August 6, 1945, at 8:15am, the day the world changed! Forever!
Hiroshima is a beautiful city with a history never to be forgotten! It’s been rebuilt; from the ground up but history will never forget what was there at 8:14am when the world was at war and it was just another enemy city. Then, the first atom bomb was dropped and civilization changed and we have been living on the edge ever since.
To say Hiroshima was the highlight of the trip, when everything we visited was a jewel, would probably be a mistake. But, it was undoubtedly the most moving place we encountered.
We joined two other couples for a full day tour with a local guide, Kaori. She met us at the pier and arranged for two taxis to take us to our first stop, the Atomic Bomb Dome Building and Peace Park. I’ve seen pictures of the Domed Building but seeing it up close is very moving and something all of us were anticipating. It was at the epicenter of the blast and yet it survived. The residents of the city decided to keep the building, as it stood after the bombing, as a tragic reminder of the impact of war and the human toll it takes.
The A-Bomb Dome, as the building is also known, was the former Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It is an officially designated site of memory for the nation’s and humanity’s collectively shared heritage of catastrophe and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
They even kept the debris that remains inside the building. It’s not trash, it’s a reminder of the power that man possesses. Use that power wisely. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed and by the end of December 1945 approximately 140,000 people died from the immediate affect of the bomb and from radiation poisoning, poisoning which led to untold suffering and deaths over the coming years. Our mantra should be, “No more Domed Buildings, no more war.”
Two other views of the building.
Peace Park, built around the building and stretching along the river to the Hiroshima Museum, is lovely. It begins at the “T Bridge” which was the original target for “Little Boy,” the bomb dropped by the Enola Gay. The bridge is in the background of this photo and is the jumping off point for our stroll through the park.
The park is lovely. To be clear, it is a park not a garden. Here is where our walk began.
Our first stop was at the Peace Bell. The memorial consists of a large Japanese bell hanging inside a small open-sided structure. On the exterior of the bell is a map of the world without borders.
The inscription on the bell, is in Japanese, Sanskrit and Greek. The Greek translates, from the sayings of Socrates, as “know yourself.”
Visitors are encouraged to ring the bell, which can be heard throughout the park, to encourage peace in the world. The “sweet spot” on the bell, where the hanging striker hits is an atomic symbol.
Here is a photo of JoAnn as she rang the bell.
Next was the Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound which is a large, grass covered knoll that contains the cremated ashes of 70,000 unidentified victims of the bomb. The first photo is from the side of the mound and the next is from the front, which I assume to be the more common view of the mound.
The Children’s Peace Monument was next.
This monument for peace is to commemorate Sadako Sasaki, depicted on the top, and the thousands of child victims. Sadako Sasaki was a young girl who died from leukemia as a result of exposure to radiation. Japanese tradition says that if one creates a thousand paper cranes they are granted one wish. Sadako’s wish was to have a world without nuclear weapons. Before she died she created more than 1,000 paper cranes but it was too late for her to realize her wish. Let’s hope it’s not too late for humanity.
Here are a couple of other shots of the memorial that I took and like.
The figures that surround the sculpture are angels representing that Sadako is in heaven among the other fallen angels who died during the bombing. Here she is soaring above us.
Around the memorial are small displays holding thousands of colorful paper cranes containing the wishes of the children of Japan.
The Peace Flame was our next stop. It is yet one more monument to the victims of the bombing. The flame has burned continuously since it was lit in 1964.
The Memorial Cenotaph, under a saddle-shaped structure, contains the names of all people killed by the bomb. The inscription, which is subject to interpretation as to its meaning, is translated into English, by its author, as “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.” The “we” is intended to refer to humanity and not to either the Japanese or the Americans.
The Cenotaph lines up directly with the Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome.
Then, we walked over to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
While we stopped in Peace Park for a fleeting moment; its memory will remain with us forever.