“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.
A little bit of history: in August 6, 1945, a nuclear bomb is dropped by the United States over Hiroshima. The official version: Hiroshima was “an important weapons depot and a shipping port in the center of an industrial urban area”. As it is explained in the museum, there is food for thought here: if it was such an important weapons depot and an interesting port, why it had not been bombed even once since the beginning of the war in December 1941? Why only 4 other cities throughout Japan had not been bombed, one of which was Nagasaki? Sometimes, US aircraft dropped pamphlets warning civilians that their city would be bombed so they had time to evacuate the city or go to the a shelter, but this time they did not warned … Obviously they had decided to drop the bomb even before the war had started and they needed to know how powerful it was. There were 255,000 people in the city; 80,000 died burned alive just like that, in minutes time. Another 20,000 in the next 24 hours. In 4 months 140,000 had died, and 200,000 in 5 years; 190,000 were civilians. In addition to the physical sequelae from burns, thousands of survivors developed radiation related diseases, most of them cancer over the next 20 years, and even today some of them have health problems related to exposure to radiation in their youth.
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.
The temperature reached almost a million Celsius degrees at the core of the explosion, 600 meters high. The radius of total destruction was 1.6 km.
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.