It was a sobering afternoon. After visiting Miyajima, Kongo headed to downtown Hiroshima to see the Peace Memorial Park. memorializing that day in August, 1945 that ushered in the Atomic Age. Although the bomb hastened the end of World War II and may have saved millions of lives had the Allies had to invade the Japanese islands, hundreds of thousands were killed instantly in the explosion and by the effects of radiation in the following years.
The iconic A-Bomb Dome used to be an industrial hall for the Hiroshima prefecture. The shell of the building was only a few hundred yards from the hypocenter of the blast. The shell of the building, built of reinforced steel and concrete survived the blast and it was kept in place as a reminder of what happened on August 6.
Every year on August 6 ceremonies are held to pray for world peace and to console the victims of the bombing.
For many years after the explosion no plants at all would grow at the site. Today the park is lush with trees and flowers.
There is an eternal flame, children’s memorial, and museums in the park.
Near the center of the park is a concrete structure covering a cenotaph that contains all the names of those killed in the blast. The saddle-shaped structure represents shelter for all the victims and when line up in the middle of it you can see eternal flame and the A-Bomb dome in the background.
The museum houses relics from the blast and moving stories and photographs of the survivors and the impact on the city.
In the nearby Peace Memorial Hall is a research facility where visitors can research the stories of the victims and survivors. When you enter the Hall, a winding pathway leads you below ground level almost like you’re going back in time.
The Hall itself is like a sanctuary. You can almost feel the weight of the events that transpired here. In adjacent rooms are constantly changing photo walls focusing on individual victims, making the horrors of war personal and poignant.