We arrived in Hiroshima, Japan on a day when people back home in California where celebrating Thanksgiving. After visiting Kyoto and Himeji, we hopped on to a bullet train and moved on to Hiroshima for one day. After that we would return back to Tokyo for the rest of our vacation. The day in Hiroshima was both touching and fun. We saw so many different sides of the city, and we were happy that we travelled this far from our original destination, Tokyo.
I'm sure we all remember Hiroshima from history. On August 6th, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb from 9450 meters on to Hiroshima. The bomb exploded at 8:15 am killing approximately 75,000 people and destroying 90% of the city. By the end of the year, a total of 140,000 people had fallen ill by the radiation and died. After a few days another atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, in Nagasaki. There are many different opinions about the necessity of the atomic bombs. Some say that they are the reason why the second world war finally ended, but many also thinks that Japan would have given up soon anyway, and therefore the bombing was not acceptable. Today the city of Hiroshima has been rebuilt, and they are devoted to work on world peace. 1.2 million people visits Hiroshima every year.
After taking our luggage to the hotel, we walked to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. The memorial is one of the rare buildings that survived the bombing even though it was at the hypocenter of the bomb. Today it is known also as the A-Bomb Dome, but back in the day it used to be an exhibition hall, museum and art gallery. The dome was registered in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
On the other side of the Motoyasu river and the Hirsohima Peace Memorial is the Hiroshima Peace Park. You can walk along the river and go over it from several spots. One of the bridges is called Aioi, and it is said to be the focal point of the bomb. There were several groups of school children visiting the Peace Park. One group was singing by the Children's Peace Monument. The monument was built to honor the memory of children who died in the Hiroshima bombing, and it tells the story of Sadako Sasaki who died at the age of 12. Sadako was two years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima but she survived that day. However she got exposed to the radiation caused by the bomb, and fell ill with leukemia later. When she was ten years old she got hospitalised. Her best friend visited her in the hospital and brought her some paper cranes she had folded. According to a Japanese tale, if you fold a thousand paper cranes, you can wish for anything and your wish will come true. Sadako started folding paper cranes while she was in the hospital but according to her father, she died when she had made a total of 644 of them. Before Sadako's funeral, her class mates folded the rest of the paper cranes and they buried them with her body. There are several different versions of this story, but it is famous around the world as a heart breaking example of the results of atomic war. Several books have been written about Sadako and her statue is also in a park in Seattle, USA.
From the Peace Park you can also find an interesting museum called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. There you can read about the chaos and consequences of the atomic bombing. Before going in, you should know that some of the pictures in the museum are quite upsetting. I had to walk through few of the rooms quite quickly because I was visiting with our 4 year old daughter and I didn't want her to see them. My husband who is a history freak followed us later since he wanted to read all the signs. The museum is not huge, so you will most likely walk through it in a couple of hours. But it sure is very touching! We were pretty quiet while walking back to our hotel while we were trying to process everything we had seen. Especially when we knew that our family and friends back in California where now enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner and celebrating the things we should be thankful for. Our day in Hiroshima gave a whole new meaning to Thanksgiving Day!
In the evening we did a little stroll in the city. One of the streets had some amazing Christmas lights so we ended walking a little more than planned. It is wonderful to see, that even after the city was completely destroyed, it has risen again, and today Hiroshima is full of life!