Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Koen (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park) is a free public park located in Hiroshima City. The park is dedicated to the victims of atomic bomb and the World War II. The 122,100 square meter park is filled with memories and remains of the tragic history.
Before the World War II, the area of present memorial park used to be called Nakajima Area which had been developed as an important area for land and sea traffic since Edo Period. In Meiji Period, a prefectural office building and town hall were built and it had been developed even more as the center of government, administration, distribution, and commercial. The total population of 7 cities within this Nakajima Area was presumably about 6500 when an atomic bomb was dropped.
On August 6th, 1945, an atomic bomb which was dropped for the first time in human history, exploded right above this area. Not only residents of this area but also many students and others that are transferred to support preparations for battle in homeland died unnatural death. The townscape and everything in this area was all gone instantly.
On the same day of 1949, along with determination of “Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law”, the entire area would be organized and provided as a peace memorial facility and it was transformed into present Peace Memorial Park in order to send world a message of wishing for world peace, and also to remember to never repeat mistake of the past. The park was designed by Kenzo Tange who were an assistant professor at Tokyo University back then. His design was chosen from more than 145 design plans at design competition. The park was completed on April 1st, 1954. At the southern end of the park, Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Shiryokan (Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum) and Hiroshima Kokusai Kaigijo (Hiroshima International Conference Hall) are located and Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome) is located at the northeastern end of the park. The park also includes other memorial sites like Memorial Monument for Atomic Bombing Victims, Memorial Tower for Unknown Atomic Bombing Victims, Bell of Peace, Statue of Atomic Bomb Child, and so on.
The park’s most recognizable remains of the War is Genbaku Dome (Atomic Bomb Dome). With its shocking and symbolic appearance, it tells silently but loudly how horrible the damage of atomic bomb was and also how strong people are hoping for eternal world peace.
Before the atomic bomb changed everything, Genbaku Dome used to be Hiroshima Commercial Museum which aimed at promoting Hiroshima’s local products. The building was designed by Czech designer, Jan Letzel and was built in 1915. Compared to all the other buildings, that were wooden two story building, in Hiroshima city, the building of the museum in a very bold European style was one of a kind and surprised local citizens. It had a large European style yard with many trees and a pond with dynamic water fountains, and even had a small Japanese style garden. Its surprisingly unique design along with its beautiful reflection in the river made the museum one of the scenic place worth to visit.
In March, 1944, when the situation of the World War II had becoming more and more severe, the museum’s operation was shut down and the building was used as a controlling office for the Bureau of Civil Work and the local public work companies.
On August 6th, 1945, it took only one atomic bomb to blow up and sweep away the entire city of Hiroshima. The building of the museum was located at 160 meters away from the spot where the bomb exploded, it was destroyed by the heat ray and the bomb blast, and it burst into flames from its ceiling. Everyone who worked in the building at the time of the explosion were killed instantly. Although the building was burnt down, the bomb blast went through the building from the above to almost straight down, the walls on the center of the building survived to keep the building from collapsing and left the symbolic shape of a steel framed dome. After the war, the local citizens started to call the building Genbaku Dome.
Along with city’s revival from the damage of the war, a very important decision about the dome was debated more and more constantly. Keep it or demolish it. There were two conflicting opinions: “To keep it as a memorial monument which witnessed the tragic incident of atomic bomb” or “To demolish it because it is a hazardous building which keep reminding people unpleasantly about the tragedy”. The discussion kept going and became the main topic when the city is almost fully recovered from the damage with less and less building remains damaged by the bomb because people started to consider how to pass on the bombed experience and tragic loss of loved ones to younger generations. The dome also becoming to be considered as an eye opener for the world situation with nuclear bombs.
During the years of discussion, the dome was kept as the way it was but its damage proceeded gradually, it was fenced from the public in 1962. Along with more and more voices to keep the dome was raised, the strength test of the dome was done in 1965, and a year after, in 1966, the city council of Hiroshima determined to keep the dome eternally as a memorial monument. The fund for its preservation work were donated from all around the world and was raised up to 66 million yen. The first work was done in 1967 and two more works has been done later.
In early 1990’s Hiroshima’s local citizens started to raise their voice for registering Genbaku Dome as the World Heritage Site. However government did not return favorable response because the dome was not even registered as historic site domestically. But with an enthusiastic campaign by local citizen group, the criterions of historic site registration was revised and the dome was domestically registered as a historic site along with national recommendation for the World Heritage Site registration. Finally in December, 1997, the dome was registered as the World Heritage Site as a historical witness to pass on the horrors of atomic bombing and as a symbol of hope for extermination of nuclear weapons and eternal world peace.
Every year, on August 6th, the memorial ceremony is held in Hiroshima Heiwa Kinen Koen and a minute of silent is dedicated to all the victims of the atomic bombing at 8:15am which is the time the bomb was dropped. And the song “Hiroshima Heiwa no Uta (Song of Peace for Hiroshima)” is sung with prayer for eternal world peace.
[How to get there]
25 minutes from the South Exite of JR Hiroshima Station.
Our WiFi is available in this area.
Apr. 18th, 2015