Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park – Travel Guide
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was built in remembrance of the world's first atomic bomb drop and the many who lost their lives as a result. Use our guide to prepare for your visit.
On August 6th, 1945, America dropped the ”Little Boy” nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. The city was destroyed and 140,000 lives were lost. This was the first instance of an atomic nuclear weapon being used in war and was shortly followed by an attack on the Japanese port city of Nagasaki three days later. In the aftermath, Kenzo Tange, a prominent Japanese architect, marshalled a group to plan and design a memorial to the event, creating what is today known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The park acts as a reminder of the events of August 1945 as well as serving to educate on the dangers of nuclear weapons and promote world peace.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park must be at the top of any itinerary when visiting Hiroshima. In what follows, we’ll run you through the key features of the park and provide all the information you’re going to need to get there and see it for yourself.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Overview
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park sits on the site of what was formally Hiroshima’s main commercial and political centre. Instead of being redeveloped like its surroundings, it was decided that the area would be given over permanently to commemorate the horrific events. As a result, the 120,000 square meter park now stands in dramatic contrast to its bustling urban surroundings in the heart of the downtown and is a physically unmissable feature of the city.
There are four main features of the park: the A-Bomb Dome, the Cenotaph for A-Bomb Victims, the Children’s Peace Monument and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. More information below:
1) The A-Bomb Dome
One of the first buildings to experience the destruction dealt out by the bomb, the A-bomb Dome is a standing testament to the effects of the atomic blast. Just 160 meters from the bomb’s hypocenter, the buildings occupants experienced almost instant death, yet remarkably the building itself was not fully obliterated. Today, it stands exactly the way it did in the wake of the explosion and his been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On a site overlooking the picturesque river and surrounded by trees, the undeniable beauty of the spot betrays its dark past and important message.
2) Cenotaph for A-Bomb Victims
The arched shape of the Cenotaph for A-Bomb Victims, designed by Kenzo Tange, is intended to shelter the souls of the attack’s victims from rain. Inscribed with the names of all the bomb’s victims as well as a message that sums up the wider aims of the park – ”Let all the souls here rest in peace, For we shall not repeat the evil” – the monument is a pertinent reminder of the devastatingly human consequences of war.
3) Children’s Peace Monument
Ten years on from the dropping of the bomb, Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese schoolgirl who was just two-years-old in 1945, developed leukemia from the residual radiation in Hiroshima. Lying on her hospital bed, she was told of an ancient Japanese legend by a fellow patient: if you fold one thousand origami cranes, you will be granted a wish. After being taught how to make a crane, Sadako set about and eventually completed her mission, using her wish to ask for world peace and the eradication of nuclear weapons.
Following her death, her school friends embarked on a campaign to build a memorial to Sadako as well as every other child afflicted by the aftermath of the bomb. In 1958, a statue of Sadako and one of her cranes was unveiled in the park inscribed with the message: “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.”
4) Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum leads visitors through a history of Hiroshima from just before the dropping of the bomb through until its aftermath. It also exhibits a collection of the victims’ personal belongings and other items that were exposed to the atomic bomb, as well as information on the effects of nuclear weapons and proclamations of peace.
Designed by Kenzo Tange, the building was built in the then fashionable Corbusier-inspired International style, yet mixes this with some distinctively Japanese features.
Price: 50 yen
Opening Hours: 8.30 am – 6 pm
Website: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Access and Visitor Information
Access: Easily accessible on foot from anywhere in downtown Hiroshima. Alternatively, from Hiroshima Station, take tram line two or six and alight at Genbaku-Domu Mae Station. The tram takes roughly 15 minutes and costs 160 yen.
Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm (Dec – Feb), 8:30 am – 6 pm (Mar – Nov), 8:30 – 7 pm (Aug). Closed Dec 29th – Jan 1st.
Price: Free (Museum: 50 yen)