Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum

Hiroshima, Chugoku Region, Japan

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial is the site of the only building left standing following the explosion of the atom bomb in 1945.

Image Credit: Oilstreet / CC

About Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial, also known as the A-Bomb Dome or the Genbaku Dome, in Hiroshima in Japan was the only building in the city which survived following the first ever explosion of an atomic bomb.

History of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial

Originally constructed in 1915 by the by the Czech architect Jan Letzel, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building is a domed structure which originally served as the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition, and was later used by the Japanese government during the war.

On 6 August 1945, US forces dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. It was the first ever use of the ‘A-bomb’. At the time, Japan was still at war with Allied forces in World War II and US President Harry S. Truman hoped that this action would cause the Japanese to surrender. In fact, Japan would surrender on 15 August 1945, but not before a further such bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki on 9 August.

The atomic bomb at Hiroshima instantly killed around 100,000 people and would go on to kill many thousands more as a result of radiation poisoning (approx 214,000 total with Nagasaki). It also devastated the city. The destruction was so great that the Hiroshima Peace Memorial building was the only structure which remained, thanks to its predominantly concrete and brick outer wall: everyone sheltering within was killed instantly however. The building’s survival is remarkable nonetheless, given it stands around 500ft from the centre of the powerful explosion.

After the war, the dome was scheduled for destruction, but debates quickly sprung up over this, with many wanting to leave its ruins standing as a memorial .From 1950, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park was established around the dome. Minor structural repairs have been undertaken in order to ensure the building’s stability, but otherwise the dome looks almost as it did following the explosion in August 1945.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park which also includes a museum. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum today

The dome itself has no public access: it can be viewed from anywhere in the Peace Park and remains an incredibly moving and powerful symbol of the destruction that occurred here.

The museum is equally as poignant, and parts of it take a strong stomach to finish reading and viewing what’s on display. Collections of items from victims and some particularly horrific photographs draw attention to the real nature of nuclear warfare, and there are some interesting exhibitions about the history and development of nuclear weapons. Look out for the watch that stopped at the moment the bomb exploded.

The museum is open year-round, and is a must-visit for anyone in Hiroshima.

Keiko Ogura was just eight years old on August 6 1945 when her home city of Hiroshima was destroyed by the US in the first atomic bomb attack in history. Those who survived the a-bombs are known as hibakusha, and Keiko - as a storyteller for the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation - is among the most prominent. In this incredible episode, James is joined by Keiko herself to learn her riveting story of survival against all odds. Warning: The events recounted in this episode may be distressing to some listeners
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Getting to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum

Take the metro to Hondori or Chuden-Mae: from there it’s a short walk across the bridge to the musuem and peace park.

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