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Wishing for World Peace at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park

Posted By on Aug 13, 2014

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If you are traveling around Japan outside of Tokyo or Kyoto, Hiroshima is an essential stop on any itinerary.

Besides being a site of international importance, being the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon in 1945, it is also a warm city with lots of character and things to do.

Unfortunately, as Hiroshima did fall victim to the bombings during World War II, most of its original buildings and cultural heritage sites were destroyed. Like Tokyo, Hiroshima looks very modern compared to other cities across Japan.

While it still feels like Japan, there’s something about Hiroshima that stands out as different from other cities. The survivors and current citizens have been working hard to restore Hiroshima’s original feeling, although it will take a lot of money and time to do so.

Everywhere is easy to get around, especially because of the tram system. Yes! Like many beloved cities in the western world, Hiroshima actually has a tram system, which is rare in Japan.

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If you take the trams, the first stop you’ll visit is the Genbaku Dome (原爆ドーム), also known as the Atomic Bomb Dome. To get the best view of this famously heartbreaking landmark, walk along the Ota River near the equally famous Aioi Bridge. Aioi Bridge, which was said to be the actual target of the bombings, gives an eerie view of the dome. Even though the dome is not very large, it stands out amongst the other buildings as an eerie eternal reminder of its tragic past.

Located nearby is the Peace Memorial Park. If you visit early enough the park should be less crowded and very peaceful, although it is also very beautiful to visit at night.

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The park serves as a memorial to all of those who lost their lives in the bombings, as well as a reminder to advocate peace in the world. There are a number of memorials and monuments throughout the park, as well as museums and lecture halls, all which draw more than a million visitors year each.

In the park there is a statue of a girl with her arms outstretched, with an origami crane above. This is the Children’s Peace Monument, dedicated to the memory of the children who died as a result of the bombing.

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The statue is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year old girl who died from radiation from the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes her wish would come true to live.

Near the Monument you can see displays of origami cranes in all the colours of the rainbow, dedicated to the memory of the victims of the bombing, to peace and to worldwide de-nuclearisation. These cranes have been sent to Hiroshima from around the world, where they are placed near the statue.

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Inside the Peace Memorial Museum, there were displays memorializing items, belongings, and sections of buildings, which were found in the aftermath of the bombings. There was also a large section that was used to inform others about the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima is a very peaceful city, but an important one that shouldn’t be missed.

Address: 1 Nakajimacho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0811, Japan

[post by Beth]

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Beth Williams

Originally from Chicago, Beth got her first true taste of travel when she studied abroad in Japan during her final year of university. She ended up loving Asia so much, she found herself moving right back upon graduating and is currently teaching English full-time in Hong Kong. Armed with her camera and a passion for travel, she is currently on a mission to photograph the world-- proving that you can work the normal “9-5” and still find time to travel on her blog Besudesu Abroad.

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