On a Thursday morning in April, just before lunch time, Hiroshima is quiet. Very quiet. I take a little nap, head propped against my backpack, as I wait to check into a capsule hotel. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is an emotive, rousing and eerie place. The monuments of death and destruction here invoke feelings that are hard to put into words.

Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome
「Genbaku-Dōmu, 原爆ドーム」

Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome 「Genbaku-Dōmu, 原爆ドーム」 during Spring in Japan
Canon DIGITAL IXUS 65 (5.8mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec, ISO79)
Atomic Bomb Dome 「Genbaku-Dōmu, 原爆ドーム」

Lying beneath a cherry blossom tree along the Motoyasu River 「Motoyasu-gawa, 元安川」 near the Atomic Bomb Dome, everything is peaceful. For such a popular tourist destination I’m surprised at how quiet it is here… but then, this place is all about peace…

The dome is part of many sites and buildings in the Memorial Park, which is designated a World Heritage site in Japan. Some of the sites are peaceful and beautiful, like the colourful chains of origami paper cranes, sent from all over the world as peace offerings. Other sites symoblise death and are very emotional, such as the mounds of ash that were created from burning the dead in the days following the blast.

Museums and other memorials are found in the park. Especially moving is the archive of testimonials from the atomic bomb survivors. There was a concerted effort to document everyone’s experience, so today videos, drawings and diaries can be viewed.

The hypocenter of the atomic bomb which killed over 100,000 people in Hiroshima was approximately 600 metres (about 2,000 feet) above the dome. Now called the Atomic Bomb Dome, a symbol of peace and a memorial to those who died here, prior to the bombing the build was the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. The hall was the only building left standing in the area.

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