The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is an absolute must-see attraction when in town. Focusing on the events of August 6th, 1945, the exhibit seeks to educate visitors on the facts surrounding the bombing and drive home the realities of nuclear warfare in general. Though much of what you will see and hear is disturbing, it is truly important viewing nonetheless.
The Road to Peace
Making your way through the Peace Memorial Park, you’ll notice a tall building just beyond the Cenotaph that appears as though on stilts. This is the Museum, and undoubtedly the most popular attraction in the park, receiving over 1 million visitors per year.
Head into the glassed foyer and pay the entrance fee of a few hundred yen. Note: lockers are available for those with bulky bags as well as multilingual audio guides which correspond with certain displays.
One of the first things you’ll see is a birds-eye comparison of Hiroshima before and after the bomb. This is the first shocking clue as to the scale of the destruction. From there, the exhibit is split into a few different sections, exploring Hiroshima’s history, the effects of the bomb and the dangers of nuclear weapons.
As you make your way through the darkened rooms, you’ll get a confronting look at the effects of the bomb on the landscape as well as on the human body. Fair warning to the squeamish and those thinking of bringing children along.
Along with photographs and paintings, there are also physical artefacts such as tattered clothing and items fused together from the heat. And though the English signage is informative, the corresponding audio guide adds another layer on top, with haunting first-hand accounts.
The final section of the museum covers the science behind nuclear weapons, as well as their current global status. After taking in all this information, it’s almost impossible to leave without a strong anti-nuke agenda. You can wear your stance proudly with an anti-nuke t-shirt from the gift shop. The shop also sells the usual fare like magnets and pens, but also artwork and books written by survivors. For those wanting more first-hand accounts, you’ll be able to find them here.
Even though the museum is at times distressing, it is important to understand what happened. A few hours of darkness is nothing compared to what the many victims have endured throughout their lives. After my visit, I looked at the surrounding area and the few physical remains in a whole new light.
And as I wandered off into the entertainment district in search of food and libations, I couldn’t help but admire the strength and efforts of the people of Hiroshima to bring the city to where it is today.
Getting To the Museum
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is located within the Peace Memorial Park, a 10-minute walk from Hiroshima Bus Center. From Hiroshima Station, you can access it via the sightseeing bus or bus #24 (getting off at Heiwa kinen koen). Alternatively, it’s a 15-minute taxi ride or a streetcar to either “Fukuro-machi” or “Genbaku Domu Mae” stops.
Address: 1-2 Nakajimacho, Naka Ward, Hiroshima, 730-0811
See our other Hiroshima articles here.
Post by Japan Journeys.