Hiroshima Peace Memorial is the only one left ruined building standing nearby the hypocenter of the 1945 atomic explosion. A numerous number of people, in both Hiroshima and abroad, had supported long lasting activities for the preservation of the building since 1960’s. The efforts and a study urge for peace had conjoined together, resulted in the preservation, bringing itself as a powerful symbol of peace into humanity.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial belongs to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Cenotaph for the A-bomb, a Flame of Fire and Hiroshima Peace Memorial were designed to align on a line. The building thus emerges as a primary landmark at the end of the line.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. The building is one of the most visited cites in the City of Hiroshima.
Preserve or Demolishing the Building
In 1915, the building was initially constructed as the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. It was designed by Jan Letzel, a 20th century Czech architect.
In the 1910’s, the European architectural design was uncommon while a majority of buildings took a two-story wooden structure in the City of Hiroshima. Stylish and elegant in design, accompanied by its reflections on the river, the building was one of the most celebrated places among the residents of the city.
The central three-story building was composed of brick and steel frames with multiple windows. An oval copper dome was situated on the top of a five-story central stair hall. A large Japanese and a Western style gardens were situated in the estate. The building served as the industrial and cultural center of Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial locates just about 160 meter away from the hypocenter of the exposition. While all the workers and inside of the building lost their lives, the building was prevented from a total destruction.
After the 1945 nuclear explosion, the ruined building was initially planed to demolish, but a priority was made on rebuilding residential and commercial areas of the city. While a delay of the plan continued, there was a strong urge to demolish among the residents.
For some of them, ‘calling the building a dangerously dilapidated structure evoked painful memories, advocated its destruction.’ On the other hand, an opposing opinion supported the building to preserve as a memorial.
A discussion whether to preserve or demolish the building was intensified with various opinions in the early 1960’s.
KAJIYAMA Hiroko, a survivor of an atomic explosion as one-year old, left a note before she passed away due to leukemia at the age of 15:
“I think only that ravaged Industrial Promotion Hall (A-bomb Dome) will be there to tell the world how fearsome atomic bombs are.”
Kajimama’s note moved the members of a group, the Hiroshima Paper Crane Club, and brought a moment to extend the building’s preservation movement.
The meaning of the atomic bombing itself began to be discussed at the meetings of the preservation activities. Instead of taking the tragedy of the explosion behind, a discussion was carried on, making their experiences something meaningful. It extended not only as a matter of Hiroshima but bridged to world peace and an illumination of nuclear weapons.
In 1966, Hiroshima City Council announced resolution for a preservation of the Atomic Bomb Dorm and that brought an aid to finance the preservation work world-wide.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial locates at the north eastern corner of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. A large numbers of visitors walk along with Motoyasu River. My impression was less Japanese but more overseas visitors. There are some information plates in front of the building. Knowing its symbolic meanings and its history would make your visit more meaningful and interesting. It would be good to visit the place at evening. Many younger oversea travelers are gathering. Artists dance and play music.
I travel when it is sunny. Therefore, I do not make a hotel booking in advance. When whether is fine, I just go! My plan did not work twice in Hiroshima. The City of Hiroshima is one of the most popular destinations among travelers in Japan. It was difficult to find an appropriate hotel and make a reservation. I recommend you to book a hotel in advance!
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