It’s been 70 years since „Little Boy” destroyed 90% of Hiroshima. Then-president Harry Truman hoped that it would speed up a surrender of Japan. He was right, Japan capitulated. But it was a Pyrrhic victory.
The U.S. bomb, „Little Boy,” the first nuclear weapon used in war, killed 140 000 people. A „black rain” of radioactive particles followed the blinding blast and fireball, and has been linked to higher rates of cancer and other radiation-related diseases among the survivors. A second bomb, „Fat Man”, dropped over Nagasaki three days later, killed another 70 000. Then-president Harry Truman hoped that it would speed up a surrender of Japan in World War II before the Soviets got into the war on Pacific. He was right, Japan capitulated. But it was Pyrrhic victory.
I believe there are places that should be visited at least once in a lifetime, such as Auschwitz-Birkenau or Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Of course after such visit you won’t say that „you had a great time” there, but it will make you understand things that can’t be learnt at school, from books or movies, if you don’t see them for yourself. Life’s not only about „beautiful” and „funny” things (I hope it was!). Sometimes you need to be sad, shocked or angry to get this extremely important lesson about an awful history of the mankind.
There are dozens of monuments in and around Peace Memorial Park.
Let me show you just a few of them.
Before the bombing, the area of the Peace Park was the political and commercial heart of Hiroshima, called Nakajima. At the time of the atomic bombing, about 6,500 people lived in the district.
The A-Bomb Dome, also known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, is what remains of the former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
Between the Museum and the A-Bomb Dome is the Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims. The Cenotaph is a tomb for those who died because of the bomb. It resembles an ancient arch-shaped house that shelters the souls of the victims. The monument is inscribed with the words, „Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil”.
The Peace Flame. The shape of pedestal suggests two hands pressed together at the wrist with the palms pointing up to the sky. It expresses condolence for victims unable to satisfy their thirst for water, as well as the desire for nuclear abolition and enduring world peace. The flame has burned continuously since 1964, and will remain lit until all nuclear bombs on the planet are destroyed (it’s not going to happen I’m afraid).
(Hidden underground) Hall of Remembrance (Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims) is a place for paying a tribute to the A-bomb victims and contemplating about peace. The wall is a panorama that recreates a view of the A-bombed city as seen from the former site of the Shima Hospital (the hypocenter).
The park’s main facility is the Peace Memorial Museum. It displays the models of Hiroshima before and after the A-bombing, documentary movies, photos and exhibitions. The visitors can view and listen to testimonies of A-bombing survivors, and write their impressions and messages for peace in a special book.
Phoenix Trees that survived exposition to the A-bomb. These trees stood in the courtyard of the Hiroshima Post and Telecommunications Bureau, about 1.3 kilometers from the hypocenter. They took the full force of the heat ray and blast, losing all of their branches and leaves. Although the trees appeared to be dead, their branches put out buds the following spring…
My visit in Hiroshima reminds me of one well-know truth – that we should never take peace for granted…
How to get to the Peace Memorial Park?
It’s easy. Take a tram no. 2 or 6 from the Hiroshima Main Station to Genbaku-Domu mae station (160 yen, 15 minutes). You will get off in front of the A-Bomb Dome.
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