From Itoshima I took a midday train to Fukuoka and then had a 2-hour layover before boarding a shinkansen (bullet train) that would take me east to the city of Hiroshima. At the train station after Fukuoka a lot of foreigners got on the shinkansen and it was like an official confirmation that I was now returning to the more popular parts of Japan. I still wasn’t fully recovered from the previous day’s 8-hour cycling adventure and I almost fell asleep about midway through the train ride but thankfully I was able to stay awake and not miss my stop at Hiroshima. By the time I finally reached my hostel in Hiroshima and put my stuff away it was already getting dark outside. I didn’t have the will or the strength to wander too far that evening but the Peace Memorial Park was fairly close to my hostel so I decided I’d pay it a visit.
Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park is near the center of the city and honors the victims of the atomic bomb that was dropped here near the end of World War 2. This part of Hiroshima was once the commercial heart of the city and was also home to a major residential district but on August 6, 1945 it was completely flattened by the blast. Construction of the park began in the 1950s and today it welcomes over a million visitors each year to remember the horrors experienced by the first city to be struck by a nuclear weapon.
Just across the river from the main part of the Peace Memorial Park is the A-Bomb Dome. This used to be the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall and it was close to the hypocenter of the blast. While other surviving buildings in Hiroshima was demolished in the years after the bombing, the A-Bome Dome was left standing as a memorial to that tragic day. In 1996 it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
Back in the center of the park I stopped by the Memorial Cenotaph before returning to my hostel. The Memorial Cenotaph is a concrete arch that serves as the tomb for the victims of the bombing. Beneath the arch is a box with a registry of the people who died both in the initial blast and afterwards from radiation exposure, roughly 220,000 in total. The arch was built so that it has a straight line of sight to the nearby Peace Flame and the A-Bomb Dome. Right by the Memorial Cenotaph are the Peace Memorial Museum and the Prayer Fountain. The museum was already closed for the day, but I had gone inside in 2017 so I didn’t feel too bad about skipping it this time.