HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL MUSEUM
If you go to Hiroshima is to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, one of the museums in the world I sadly consider essential.
Reluctantly, the main tourist attraction in the city; it’s visited by more than one million people a year. Opened in 1955, it is a large collection of memorabilia about the bombing, along with testimonies of survivors and exhibitions on nuclear energy. Apart from the museum and the park that belongs to it, there is hardly anything of interest, which is logical considering that, after the bomb exploded, there was nothing left standing. The city was rebuilt quickly to make it habitable as soon as possible; there was no time to make beautiful buildings or (apart from the castle) reconstruct ancient temples. When I say there was nothing left, I’m not exaggerating.
“Peace” is the word most often repeated during the visit to this museum. Open daily from 8:30 to 17:00 or 19:00 depending on the season. Adult admission ¥ 200 (new rate from 01/04/2016). The east building is closed until October 2016 for renovation. I believe that the audioguide is essential to help to understand what happened; testimonies are overwhelming.
Some of the pictures shown in the museum are extremely hard and will hurt the sensitivity of the visitor, because that is exactly the intention. I do not reproduce photographs that can be extremely unpleasant, but I will say that the burns are explicit and gruesome.
Temperature reached almost a million Celsius degrees (1.8 million Fahrenheit) at the core of the explosion, 600 meters high. The radius of total destruction was 1.6 km (1 mile).
The effects of radiation killed thousands of people in the following years. Have you ever seen these little paper cranes? Sadako Sasaki made them famous. This girl was exposed to radiation when she was 2 old and suffered leukemia at age 11. Her roommate at the hospital told her the Japanese legend that says the whoever fold 1000 origami cranes would be granted a wish. She folded 1400. She died the following year. Her classmates folded 1000 more cranes and put them inside her coffin. Sadako’s paper cranes became a symbol of peace. There are thousands in the Memorial Peace Park. If the visitors joins one of the free tours, it is likely that they will be given one.
The museum also houses rooms describing the military characteristics of the conflict, as well as a technical exhibition of the bomb, called Little Boy.
HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL PARK
Just 400 meters long, it was built near the hypocenter of the explosion. It’s a part of the Museum. In the park and surrounding area there are 59 monuments and cenotaphs.
In the Park, and some in the museum too, there are volunteers who guide small free tours. Donations are not accepted (at least, they weren’t when I was there), volunteers do this work to practice their English while they explain and promote a message of peace.
It is a replica, since the original was completely destroyed. It is small but nice with a rectangular pit. It reminds me the famous Okayama castle.
No tram stop is closer than 10 minutes walk, so I recommend walking from Memorial Park 15 minutes north. Open from 9:00 to 17:30 in summer time and until 18:00 in winter. Admission to the main tower (not recommended) is ¥ 370.