Followed on from my previous post on Hiroshima Peace Museum….
After quite an emotional visit to the museum we hopped on the bikes we had rented from the hostel and started to make our way around the park, if you go this is a great way to get round all the sites of the park. It is all within walking distance but it was nice to cycle around!
We stopped off first at the Cenotaph which is located at the centre of the park, it contains all the names of the victims killed by the bomb, the shape is meant to represent a shelter for the souls of the victims and is positioned so you can look though and see the Atomic-Dome and the Peace Flame. The peace flame was lit in 1964 and will remain lit until all nuclear weapons have been destroyed. As it was still quite early the park was quiet however it was hard to miss the elderly couple in front of us saying a prayer at the Cenotaph with tears falling down the ladies cheek.
We cycled on to the hall of remembrance which is a place to remember all the victims of the bombing as well as a hope for peace. Before entering the building there is a clock frozen at 8.15 (time the bomb went off) The remembrance hall contains information about the estimated 140,000 victims, it spirals down to a huge room containing a 360 view of the destroyed Hiroshima made up of 140,000 tiles, one for each person killed by the end of 1945. At the centre of the room was a water feature where a pillar of light shone down from a glass panel above. The room was impressive and was a beautiful way to remember the lives that had been lost.
Continuing on we cycled to the river and over the bridge to the most
famous site in Hiroshima, the Atomic Dome. The A-Bomb dome is what remains of the Promotion Hall which stood tall before the bomb went off. The bomb exploded almost directly above the dome which allowed for it to keep its shape due to the downward blast. Everyone inside the dome was killed instantly and it was decided that the dome would remain standing to serve as a reminder of the tragedy that had happened and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Across the river you are able to see a picture of the original building and see just how much survived the blast and is a chilling sight.
Moving on we reached the Peace Bell which visitors are encouraged to ring in call for peace and as you walk around the park you can hear it ring as visitors give it a bell.
Andy and I both had a shot and the sound is impressive! Just along from the peace bell there is another peace bell which is much smaller but very beautiful. This one is the children’s memorial in honor of Sadako, the little girl who was diagnosed with leukaemia 10 years after the blast due to radiation poisoning.
She spent her days in hospital folding paper cranes in the hope that if she made 1000 she would get a wish from the Gods (an old Japanese myth) but sadly died and was buried with her cranes. She became a symbol for the innocent children who died in the bomb and also showed that the effects of the bomb could be felt many years on. The Bell has a statue of Sadako on the top with a gold crane under the bell. Each year thousands of visitors fill the area round the bell with their own paper cranes in her honor and in the honor of the thousands of children who perished in the blast.
Finally we reached the atomic mound, an area often overlooked by many visitors (especially if they had not been to the museum before hand) It is estimated that 140,000 people died by the end of 1945, and many of the victims were never identified. The mound holds the ashes of approximately 70,000 people killed in the blast that either were never identified or had no family left to receive the ashes.
With that our day was over and although the sun was shining and the day was beautiful we couldn’t help but leave with a heavy heart. I would encourage anyone who is visiting Japan to take time out to visit Hiroshima. It was one of the most profound days I have ever had. It was not the easiest option to get there considering our tight time frame (Or the cheapest! It cost $200 return from Osaka…Each! On the train) However, it is something that will always stay with me and something that I am glad we were able to see and do. It also gave me a new found respect for my Great Aunt Agnes who’s medical skills were no doubt used to the limit in her time helping out after the blast.