Peace Memorials: Hiroshima & Nagasaki

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Peace Memorials: Hiroshima & Nagasaki

Learning a painful lesson of lasting peace from visiting the Atomic Bombing sites (the only two in the world) in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

While museums are usually a celebration of achievements, some of them exhibit something quite heavy for their visitors. Rather than showcasing something extraordinary, they remind viewers of a painful past with a goodwill that people take it as a lesson learned and hopefully never happen again.

I ended my visits to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum with a heavy heart where I learned the price had paid with wars.

Hiroshima 1945.08.06. 8:15 am


Perhaps Hiroshima is best known for being the first city (and the only two) in history to be attacked by a nuclear weapon. Before the atomic bombing, Hiroshima was a major urban center of the Sanyo region of Japan. It is beautifully situated on the Ota River Delta coastline of the Seto Inland Sea with six rivers run through the city center.

The nuclear weapon was developed during World War II as the US government initiated the Manhattan Project. Hiroshima was targeted because at the time the city was a supply and logistics base for the Japanese military, also was a communications center, a key port for shipping, and an assembly area for troops.

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Hiroshima

When the U.S. Army Air Forces dropped the bomb “Little Boy” at 8:15 am on 6th August 1945, the destruction was effective. Ninety percent of the city was destroyed. After Japan surrendered, the nation picked up the pieces and rebuilt the entire city from the shambles. Today, 70 years after the attack, the once devastated city has been restored to a thriving modern metropolis of 1.2 million people. Yet it doesn’t mean the painful past has been forgotten.

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Aioi Bridge: a T-shaped bridge that was the “Little Boy”‘s target 

hiroshima-5Once we got off the tram at the Genbaku-Dome-Mae Station (the Atomic Bomb Dome), we were walking on the Aioi Bridge. Many thought that the Atomic Bomb Dome was the hypocenter of the bombing, but it was not the case. In fact, the original target was the Aioi Bridge, an unusual T-shaped bridge that straddles across the Ota River, as it was an outstanding target for the Air Forces to easily recognize from the air. In the end, the bomb exploded directly over the nearby Shima Hospital and the Atomic Bomb Dome, which was the only structure that left standing and is now a landmark, and a World UNESCO Heritage Site. The building was built in 1915 as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. While the force of the blast came from almost directly above the dome. It survived from collapsing like the surrounding structures. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was built in the ground zero as a memorial of the people who were killed and suffered in the incident.

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Atomic Bomb Dome and the Aioi Bridge

Monuments in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park:

  • Atomic Bomb Dome
  • Monument in Memory of the Korean Victims of the Atomic Bomb
  • Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound
  • Peace Clock Tower
  • Children’s Peace Monument
  • Cenotaph of the Atomic Bomb Victims
  • Rest House
  • Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims

Please visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum on the other side of the park as it recorded the history and the aftermath of the bombing. I was not prepared for the visit and the images and information there was a brutal realization of how destructive war is.

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Some might think the bomb exploded when it hit the ground. In fact, the bomb exploded mid-air and the immense heat immediately burnt down the entire city in a split second.

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One of the most shocking moments was that I learned the victims were instantly killed (or combusted) as they were exposed to the explosion. They only left a shadow – and a shadow on a stone staircase of a bank was shown in the museum.

Nagasaki 1945.08.09 11:02 am


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nagasaki-1While Hiroshima was in chaos after the attack, the second (and currently the last) atomic bombs exploded after merely three days and basically led to an end of World War II. As there was no indication of Japan surrendering, the Allied decided to proceed with dropping another bomb. Kokura, where one of Japan’s largest munition plants was at that time, was the next target. It was eventually spared from the attack due to poor vision over thick clouds; and Nagasaki, a major seaport and a historical city in southern Japan, became the next target.

The name, Nagasaki, means “long cape”. The city is located in the northwest corner of Kyushu with beautiful harbors. I would later introduce some amazing sites in the city, but the first day we arrived we took the city tram and then walked up to the Hypocenter from the Hamaguchimachi Station – where the “Fat Man” was dropped by the U.S. Air Forces at 11:02 am on 9th August 1945.

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Nagasaki Peace Park Statue
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Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum

Compared to the Hiroshima Memorial Park, the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, memorials, and peace park in Nagasaki is smaller in scale and much less crowded. Somehow the serenity gave me chills as we were walking through the green, knowing that it was the center where a bomb exploded mid-air over 70 years ago and killed tens of thousands of people.

Monuments in Nagasaki Peace Park and the Hypocenter:

  • Hypocenter Cenotaph
  • Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
  • Nagasaki National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims
  • Nagasaki Peace Park
  • Peace Statue and Fountain of Peace
  • Peace Memorial Hall

I do hope the exhibit and horrific photos in the museums would remind people of the importance of lasting peace and the abolition of such weapons.

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34 thoughts on “Peace Memorials: Hiroshima & Nagasaki

  1. I grew up about an hour outside of Wright Patterson AFB, which is one, if not, the largest collection of military aircraft in any museum. They have an exhibit, complete with replicates of little boy and fat man. It is a fascinating part of history but a tragic loss of life. I think VJ could have been achieved with dropping either bomb with about the same terms conditions and time table.

  2. I think it’s really important that these museums stand the test of time and remind us of the tragedies in our past – because if we too quickly forget, we’re doomed to repeat the same history again. I’ve been to Hiroshima and it was a very sober day.

  3. What a painful and important place to visit and write about. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are painful reminders of the horrible devastation of war. While we all want to look away, it’s so important to face and understand the horror so we don’t let it happen again.

  4. Loved the pictures, you captured the whole vibe and atmosphere of the places. Very interesting to see how the places are now a day and it’s peculiar that the Atomic Bomb Dome is a World UNESCO Heritage Site, will definitely have a look at it when I visit!
    xx, Pilar
    http://www.thelifestylehunter.com

    1. Thanks Pilar for stopping by. I think history, no matter good or bad, has something to teach and remember👌🏻👏🏻👍🏻😊

  5. Fascinating post – thank you for writing it. I wrote something similar about my visit to WWII monuments in Europe. The past should not be forgotten, or else the mistakes of the past may be repeated.

  6. We had a similar feeling when visiting the memorials of WW II in Normandy, France. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum are on list. The destruction is disheartening and we would want to visit these memorials and pay our respects.

  7. I went to the Hiroshima memorial a few years ago, and I couldn’t agree with your descriptions any more. I’ll never forget the scenes they recreated that showed peoples fingers melting off. I’ve often wondered what the one in Nagasaki looked it. I was thinking about not bothering with it, but after reading your experience I might just have to visit it. Thanks!

  8. Hey there, I enjoyed reading your thoughtful & well-written post & learnt (or re-learnt) a lot of information about this period in history. I have visited Hiroshima, hope to get to Nagasaki on a future trip to Japan.

    1. Thanks DIY Travel HQ, I tried to put down some trivia facts that I found noteworthy but there were a lot more, in fact the imaginery were the most powerful in the museums. 😔

  9. This is a great post! Thank you for sharing. When traveling you learn so many different perspectives in the world, which is amazing!

  10. Thank you for sharing this post, it’s important to never forget that time in history. I remember learning about the A-bombs in history class as a kid. For whatever reason it might be Hiroshima seems to stand out more than the Nagasaki bomb, even though both were completely devastating.

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