Hiroshima: Atomic Bomb Dome, A Haunting Monument
Being a part of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, this is the preserved ruins of the building in the aftermath of the Atomic bombings of August 6, 1945. This building, formerly known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, was the only building left standing from near the hypocenter, about 240 meters away. It is being preserved, symbolizing the horrible tragedy that took place that morning. Whenever you see it, either at a distance or up close, you feel a distinct atmosphere, and it is impossible that you will not be emotionally moved by its spectacle.
From Osaka, it took us several hours of travel to reach Hiroshima. For several times we planned and tried to go here, especially that we’ve watched countless documentaries and films, and read on the books about the city’s tragic day.
We were not emotionally prepared when we set foot on the site. The building is a mute witness to human atrocities. You will be stopped from your walk as the building looks back to you.
Formally known as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (広島平和記念碑 Hiroshima Heiwa Kinenhi), the building’s ruins are now commonly called the Genbaku Dome, Atomic Bomb Dome or A-Bomb Dome (原爆ドーム Genbaku Dōmu). It is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
As Hiroshima and the rest of Japan are reeling from the ravages of war, the domed building became a subject of controversy, with some residents wanting it to be torn down. Eventually, the building was left intact, becoming the symbol of the bombing and a symbol of peace.
Today efforts are being done to preserve and stabilize the building from further deterioration, with the effort to have it look like as much as it was just in 1945. Its inclusion to the UNESCO World Heritage list was based on its survival from a destructive force (atomic bomb), the first use of a nuclear weapon on a human population, and its representation as a symbol of peace.
While the site is almost always full of tourists, there is no other activity here aside from silence. There are plaques installed at the front, inscribed in major languages on what happened during that fateful day.
After our visit in the afternoon, we returned to the site by evening. At this time, the emotional impact of the place is more intense while being covered in silence. This is a must visit for anyone who has compassion for the victims of war, and the grim reminder in the hope that it will never happen again.
The atom bomb, nicknamed the “Little Boy”, was dropped from the airplane Enola Gay at 8:15 in the morning. The bomb missed its original target at the T-shaped Aioi Bridge, and instead exploded directly over Shima Hospital, very near the Industrial Promotion Hall. While everyone in the hall was instantly killed, the downward force it received (rather than sideways), and its reinforced construction intended to withstand earthquakes, contributed to the building’s survival from total destruction.
From Hiroshima Station, take tram line 2 or 6 to Genbaku-Domu Mae (原爆ドーム前) station. The ride takes 15 minutes and costs 180 yen.
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
- Hiroshima Castle