Hiroshima is such a peaceful city. On my first visit there in the spring of 2009, I enjoyed a peaceful nap, using my backpack as a pillow, along the banks of the Motoyasu River while waiting to check-in to my capsule hotel. If you’ve been to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome, you know just how hard it is to put into words the surreal and monumental atmosphere of this World Heritage site.

After visiting the A-Bomb Dome itself, and while walking over towards the Peace Memorial Park, I noticed someone swimming in the river…

Naked Yakusa man at the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima
Canon DIGITAL IXUS 65 (17.4mm, f/4.9, 1/250 sec, ISO82)
Naked Yakusa man strolling around after a swim in the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima

It was a beautiful day. The city was quiet. Hundreds of sakura 「桜/cherry blossom」 trees were in full bloom. The air was cool. Then all that peace and serenity was bizarrely interrupted by this strange man swimming in the river, right next to Hiroshima’s most famous icon.

When he made his way out of the water, it was clear that this man was a Yakuza (notorious Japanese gang). He was literally covered from head to toe in tattoos. As he left the banks of the river, he strolled past an old man sitting with his grandson. Onlookers just stared. The Yakuza man, with great confidence and still completely nude, simply walked up the stairs toward the Peace Memorial Park and continued on with his day.

Here’s a closeup. Excuse the poor quality, this is on my very old point and shoot…

Closeup of the naked Yakuza man
Closeup of the naked Yakuza man

Canon DIGITAL IXUS 65 (17.4mm, f/4.9, 1/250 sec, ISO82)
Exact location of the Yakuza man spotting:

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View this location – Map coordinates: 34.394605,132.453049.

The A-Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima are sites that should be on your “must-visit” in Japan list. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum contains chilling pieces of history from the catastrophic event that occured at 8:15:17AM on 6 August 1945.