This site uses affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
- history of atomic bombing of Hiroshima
- location and significance of Hiroshima’s memorials and monuments
exhibits at Hiroshima Peace Museum
Atomic Bomb Explosion
In July 1945 U.S. had successfully tested a working atomic bomb.
When Germany surrendered to the Allies in May 1945, it became clear that the atomic bomb might be used on Japan. Japan continued to refuse surrendering to the Allies and publicly rejected Potsdam Declaration.
The general opinion was that the Japanese would fight to the bitter end.
The invasion of the islands by combat forces was calculated to be costly. An opinion that dropping one or more atomic bombs might convince the Japanese that further fighting was futile. And, since the atomic bomb was available, President Truman authorized the attack on Hiroshima.
Charles Maier, a professor of history at Harvard University, said that while it was possible for Truman to have made another decision, he said “It would have been hard to justify to the American public why he prolonged the war when this weapon was available.”
Atomic Bombing Of Hiroshima
Why Did the U.S. Bomb Hiroshima
A directive approved by President Truman and issued by Secretary of War Henry Stimson and General of the Army George Marshall, ordered the Army Air Force’s 509th Composite Group to attack Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata, or Nagasaki weather permitting.
Thus, Hiroshima was chosen because it had not been targeted during the U.S. Air Force’s conventional bombing raids on Japan. As a result, it would give a true indication of the effect of an impact of the atomic bomb. Also, Hiroshima was an important military base.
At 8:15 am on August 6th, 1945 the city of Hiroshima fell victim to the atomic bombing.
Plane that Delivered Atomic Bomb to Hiroshima
The atomic bomb with a codename Little Boy, was dropped by the United States Army Air Forces from the Boeing B-29 Bomber Superfortress Enola Gay. It was named for Enola Gay Tibbets, the mother of the pilot, Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.
Copy from U.S. National Archives, RG 77-AEC. Chuck Hansen via Wikimedia Commons
The bomb was dropped by parachute. The detonation was cased by firing one piece of uranium 235 into another and occurred at 580 m (1,900 ft) above the ground after falling for 45 seconds.
Authors: George C. Caron and Charles Levy via Wikimedia Commons
The intended target for the bombing was Aioibashi bridge, a distinctive t-shaped structure which was easily recognizable from air – just to the north of where the park stands now.
Hiroshima Bombing Aftermath
The damage came from three main effects: blast, fire and radiation. The blast was the result of x-ray heated air, which sent a shock wave in all directions. Next, the fireball of the blinding light and heat created fires which merged into a firestorm.
Lastly, the radiation: soon after the explosion, a giant mushroom cloud rose upward carrying dust, dirt, ash and other debris contaminated with radioactive fission products high into the air. It mixed with the water vapor in the air and then fell back to earth in what came to be called “black rain.”
The entire city was virtually obliterated.
Author U.S. Navy public Affairs Resources Website via Wikimedia Commons
It is estimated that over 70,000 people were killed instantly and more than 70,000 suffered fatal injuries. Many more who managed to survive sustained permanent physical and psychological damage. Many still endure the effects today.
On the morning of August 9th, 1945, the Americans dropped a second, bigger atomic bomb. The original target was Kokura, however Kokura was shielded by thick clouds on that day, so the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. The final death toll was calculated at least 50,000.
On August 10, 1945 Japan offered to surrender to the Allies.
Today, Hiroshima has recovered into a bustling manufacturing hub with a population of 1.1 million people and counting.
Photo by Peter Cartledge via Flickr
Hiroshima City of Peace
However, the people of Hiroshima have certainly not forgotten the fact that their city was once transformed to rubble by an atomic bomb. The A-Bomb Dome, Peace Memorial Park with its monuments and memorials, and the museum will forever tell the story of the cruel tragedy of the atomic bombing.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony
Every year on August 6, the day the bomb was dropped, Hiroshima holds a ceremony in Peace Memorial Park.
Photo by terrykimura via Flickr
Visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park serves as a memorial to the people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. It was designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and opened to the public in 1954.
The park has a total area of 122,00 square meters and houses a museum, numerous memorials and monuments.
While visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, I found it difficult to imagine that this quiet and spacious triangle shaped piece of land bordered by two rivers was once a busy commercial and residential downtown area.
Want to read this post later?
Pin it on your Pinterest board!
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Map
Credit: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park – Map posted with a permission from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Atomic Bomb Dome
The first stop in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome) – now commonly called the Atomic Bomb Dome or A-Bomb Dome.
The building was designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel and was completed in 1915. It served as the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall and housed national and municipal governmental offices.
The building was located just 160 meters from the epicenter of the blast and amazingly, it was one of the few structures in the area to remain upright.
Atomic Bomb Dome was designed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
At night, with the lighting, the A-Bomb Dome and other memorial monuments look different than in the daytime. Darkness isolates them from the lively modern city, which makes them much more impressive to view at this hour.
Photo by Marufish via Flickr
Hypocenter of Hiroshima Atomic Bomb
Hypocenter of Hiroshima atomic bomb is marked with a memorial plaque.
The atomic bomb targeted Aioibashi Bridge, yet it exploded directly above Shima Hospital. The building was destroyed instantly, and it is estimated that 80 patients, nurses, and other individuals disappeared without a trace.
It was sobering experience for me to stand in that spot and look up into the sky.
Children’s Peace Monument
Children’s Peace Monument is a tribute to Sadako Sasaki and all the children who perished in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Sadako was exposed to the A-bomb at the age of two but grew into a strong and healthy girl. Nine years later, she suddenly contracted leukemia. After an eight-month battle with the disease, she succumbed.
Hiroshima Thousand Cranes
Hiroshima Children’s Peace Monument is also known as “Tower of a Thousand Cranes”. When you get to the monument, you will see brightly colored cranes everywhere.
Photo by liddybits via flickr
These cranes came originally from the Japanese tradition of origami, or paper folding. Sadako believed that if she folded 1,000 origami cranes she would recover. She continued folding them to the last moments of her life. Today, the paper cranes are known as the symbol of peace.
Sadako’s death triggered a movement to build a monument to all the children who perished due to the atomic bomb. Children’s Peace Monument was completed on May 5th, 1958.
Cenotaph for the A-Bomb Victims
Cenotaph, also known as the Memorial Monument for Hiroshima for the A-bomb Victims is located in the center of the park. It consists of a stone coffer beneath an arch. Within the coffer is a record of the names of victims of the atomic bombing.
Cenotaph is inscribed with the phrase: “Let all the souls here rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil.”
Visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was built by the city of Hiroshima and it was opened to the public 1950.
Museum collects materials that convey the horror of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing. It displays artifacts, photographs, paintings that show Hiroshima before and after the bombing.
It demonstrates the present the current status of the nuclear age.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Renovation
The museum has been going through an extensive renovation project since 2017. It reopened its doors on April 25th, 2019 with two new permanent exhibitions, titled Hiroshima on August 6 and Victims and Survivors.
The exhibitions tell the story of the day the Allied forces dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima at the close of WWII and its aftermath.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Floor Plans
Credit: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum – Map posted with a permission from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Allow at least 2 hours for your visit. Enter the museum from the first floor and take the escalator to the third floor.
Third Floor of the Museum
• Introductory Exhibit – see the photographs, panels, videos and panorama models of Hiroshima. See the daily lives of people in Hiroshima and learn how they were lost in the atomic bombing.
• The Dangers of Nuclear Weapons – get informed about the development, testing, and use of atomic bombs; learn about the damage caused from the shock waves, firestorms and radiation.
U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Baker/Released
• Hiroshima History – learn about Hiroshima during the war, recovery efforts after the war and the struggles to eliminate nuclear weapons.
• Outline of Atomic Bomb Damage – Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Special Exhibition Room – this is the most poignant part of the museum. Here, you will see the victims’ belongings donated to the museum by the victims of the terrible attack or their family members.
Here, you will read the accounts of survivors which show the misery of the bomb attack.
The photographs of the effects of the bombing and the results of the subsequent radiation are heart wrenching.
For opening hours and admission fees click here.
Hiroshima National Peace Memorial Hall
for the Atomic Bomb Victims
This memorial is a very special place. It was opened by the Japanese government in 2002 and is a place to mourn the victims of the atomic bombing.
It contains thousands of written and video testimonials by survivors of the bombings and photographs of those who were killed.
Aogiri Trees Exposed to the Bombing
These aogiri (Chinese parasol) trees were originally growing 1.3 kilometers from the epicenter of the explosion and took the full force of the heat and blast.
Interestingly enough, although apparently dead, the next spring after the bombing, they started to bud again, giving hope to the people of the city.
The trees were transplanted to their current location in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park by the east building of the Peace Memorial Museum in 1973.
Unforgettable Experience of
Visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
I hope the visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park leaves you as struck as I was by the brutal physical, mental and emotional agony felt by so many. War is hell. It does not matter who started it or who ended it. Or, if the acts were justified or not. War is hell. War effects everyone.
The park’s paths are filled with memorials, monuments, tributes. One after the next, all of them are reminders of the inhumanity of war.
But, while visiting Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, I felt something else as well: I felt that there is hope for forgiveness and above all – hope for peace.
The best way to get a good understanding of the timeline leading to the bombing, the impact of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and the recovery efforts is to attend:
You will have a local guide who will give you an in-depth insight into the history of Hiroshima.
How to Get to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
from Hiroshima Station
From Hiroshima Station take Hiroshima Electric Railway (streetcar) and get off at Genbaku Dome-mae. It is about a 20 minute ride. The cost is 160 yen.
If you are planning on additional sightseeing in Hiroshima, consider Hiroshima Sightseeing Loop Bus.
Find this useful?
Why not pin it!
Now, I would like to hear back from you! Are you planning a trip to Hiroshima or Miyajima?
Leave me a quick comment right below!
Also, click on the image below to get inspired!