The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a park in the middle of Hiroshima city that contains several memorials to the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima. The park is a constant reminder of the tragic past when Hiroshima suffered the world’s first atomic bomb attack. Today the park attracts visitors from all over the world and the city of Hiroshima is a vibrant, green and attractive modern city.
What to See at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum overlooks the Memorial Cenotaph, and is dedicated to educating visitors about the atomic bomb. A visit here is a sobering experience of the destruction of the atomic bomb. The lower floor of the museum displays the history of the city of Hiroshima and the living conditions during the war years leading up to the devastation. The upper floor contains rooms with items salvaged from the aftermath of the destruction.
The Memorial Cenotaph
The Memorial Cenotaph located near the center of the park is an arched tomb for the victims of the bomb. A stone chest below the arch holds a register that contains all the known names of those who lost their lives as a result of the bombing. It is designed in a traditional Shinto style, to provide protection to the souls of the victims. The cenotaph carries the epitaph, “Let all souls here rest in Peace, for we shall not repeat the evil.” A memorial ceremony is held here every year on the anniversary of the event on August 6th.
The Memorial Cenotaph frames the Atomic Bomb Dome across the river. You can look through the arch of the cenotaph to see the Flame of Peace and the Atomic Bomb Dome.
The Flame of Peace
The Flame of Peace is shaped symbolising two hands held palm upwards. It is designed to reflect the victims who were unable to satisfy their thirst for water. It was built to express the desire for the abolition of all nuclear weapons and has been alight since August the 1st 1964. It will be extinguished once all of the nuclear weapons on earth have been destroyed.
The Children’s Peace Monument
The Children’s Peace Monument was built in memory of all the children who died as a result of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The monument features Sadako Sasaki holding a golden crane above her head. Who was Sadako Sasaki? She was a young girl who developed leukaemia from exposure to radiation from the atomic bomb at the age of 11 in 1955. She famously attempted to fold 1000 origami paper cranes in order for her wish to become healthy again. In Japan, the crane is a symbol of longevity and happiness, and it is said that the gods will grant a wish to anyone who folds a thousand paper cranes. Sadly, she died having completed her 644th crane, but her classmates folded the rest with which she was buried. The monument was built with donations from school children touched by her story.
This story inspired the whole nation and even today you can see millions of origami paper cranes folded by students from Japan and from all around the world. They are displayed near the Children’s Peace Monument as shown in the picture below and are strung onto lines of a thousand.
Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Domu)
The Atomic Bomb Dome or Genbaku Domu in Japanese is a symbol and reminder of the devastation of the atomic bomb upon Hiroshima. The bomb is believed to have exploded almost directly above the building, and it is one of the very few left standing near the epicentre of the blast. It is located just across the river from the Peace Memorial Park. The building was originally built in 1915 by a Czech architect and served as the Industrial Promotion Hall. The building has been preserved as a memorial and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
History of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is over 120,000 square meters and is lined with trees, lawns and walking paths. Before the war the area that is now the Peace Park was the political and commercial heart of the city of Hiroshima. That is why it was chosen as the target for the atomic bomb. Exactly four years after the bomb was dropped, it was decided that the area would be dedicated to peace and a memorial of the victims.
The Memorial Cenotaph was one of the first memorial monuments built in 1952. The park officially opened on April 1st 1954.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is open all year round
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is open
8:30 am to 6:00 pm (March – November)
8:30 am to 5:00 pm (December – February)
8:30 am to 7:00 pm in August during summer
It is closed from December 29 – January 1
Admission to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is free
Admission to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is 50 yen
How to Get There
All of the sights around the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park can be visited by foot.
You can catch a tram from Hiroshima Station at the terminal in front of the station’s south exit. Take tram number 2 or 6 to the Ganbaku Domu mae stop. It takes about 15 minutes and costs 150 yen.
Address: Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken 730-0811
Best Time to Go
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park can be visited all year round but is especially beautiful in early April with the cherry blossoms.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony is held in front of the Memorial Cenotaph starting at around 8 am on August 6th to remember the victims of the bombing and pray for world peace.
Tip: The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is probably not a place to bring young children due to the graphic nature of the displays.