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HiroshimaIn addition to cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, Hiroshima is considered one of the must-see destinations in Japan. Along it’s streets are many historical sites related to both the city’s ancient past and more recent horrifying event. Obviously, an enormous amount of attractions are associated with the event that brought Hiroshima to worldwide attention for all the wrong reasons.
1 – Peace Memorial ParkUndoubtedly this is one of the most significant highlights in all of Hiroshima. Located at the city’s former political and industrial centre, the Peace Memorial Park became the prime target for the allies to use the first atomic bomb in history during the Second World War. Following the city’s destruction, the area would be devoted to facilities that memorialise peace. One of these is the Peace Memorial Museum. Inside are heart-wrenching exhibitions that show the utter devastation caused by the bomb, and the repercussion of it decades later. Visitors to the museum are likely to feel uncomfortable, as so they should. The museum serves its purpose of explicitly illustrating why such inhumanity should never reoccur. Additionally, throughout the park are a few smaller memorials, such as the Memorial Cenotaph, an arched tomb dedicated to the victims of the atomic bomb. A stone chest under the arch holds the names of 220,000 victims. Further up the central walkway is the Peace Flame, which is intended to be extinguished once the world is free of nuclear weapons. Sadly, the flame has continued to burn brightly ever since it was lit in 1964.
2 – Atomic DomeAt 8:15am on 6th August 1945, the first ever atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima. The former Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall was almost directly under the hypocenter of the explosion. Despite that – unlike the rest of the city – it avoided complete destruction. The skeletal remains and the rusted dome, which gives the building its name, is all that was left. The people of Hiroshima decided to keep the ruins as they were, to serve as a tragic reminder of the devastation. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is also a harsh reminder of why the world should be free of nuclear weapons. Without doubt one of the most worthwhile and spine-tingling Hiroshima highlights.
3 – Mitaki-deraJapan’s top highlights include a long list of temples, some of which are right here in Hiroshima. Built in 809, Mitaki-dera is a dedication to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Hidden in the bamboo forests on the edge of Mount Mitaki, it’s a perfect detour to find some peace in the surrounding nature. An especially unique feature of the temple is a two-storey pagoda that was moved from Wakayama in 1951 to comfort the souls of the atomic bomb’s victims. In addition, there’s a stone statue of jizo, the protector of women, children, and travellers. [visual-link-preview encoded=”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″] The temple grounds also have a small tea house that serves simple traditional foods. If you prefer to get back to nature, there are a number of trails behind the temple that lead through the bamboo forests towards the summit of Mount Mitaki.
4 – Hiroshima CastleHiroshima Castle is one of many reminders of Japan’s feudal era. The “Carp Castle” used to be the city’s physical and economic centre, as well as a vital point of power for the West of Japan. Similar to the rest of the city, it had to be fully reconstructed after the atomic bomb. Around the 5-storey castle is an outer moat, a scattering of ruins and a few other reconstructed structures, such as the Ninomaru (secondary defence wall). Within the castle, visitors can learn about the history of the castle and of others around the country. The upper levels also has a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
5 – Tōshō-gū ShrineTōshō-gū is one of many Shinto shrines across the country where Tokugawa Ieyasu – the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate – is enshrined. It was built at a significant location, just to the northeast of Hiroshima castle, the city’s former center. Legend tells that the northeast direction is unlucky, as its where evil spirits enter through the kimon or “demon gate”. Therefore, temples and shrines were placed to the northeast of important areas to protect them. [visual-link-preview encoded=”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”] The shrine is home to a unique celebration that only occurs every 50 years: the Tōrigosairei. On the anniversary of Ieyasu’s death, huge crowds gather to take part in a special ceremony. Volunteers carry a 1-ton omikoshi portable shrine up and down the steep steps and along the nearby streets.
6 – HypocenterDespite looking pretty simple, it’s one of the most significant highlights in Hiroshima. Hidden down a narrow side-street, it’s easy to forget its importance. This is the hypocenter, the exact point at which the fateful bomb detonated 180 meters above the city. People will often leave behind offerings such as paper cranes as a sign of peace and collections of flowers for the dead.
7 – Shirakami-shaThe origins of the shrine known as “white god” began as early as the 16th century. In the past, ships would travel deep into the city that was built across large amounts of coasts and reefs. By doing so, they would run the risk of sinking due to the hazardous formations that lay beneath. Thus, to avoid a disaster, a series of white papers was arranged on a small patch of reef, acting as make-shift warning flags. Eventually these pieces of paper were replaced with a shrine to honour these little lifesavers and the countless number of ships they spared.
8 – Orizuru TowerOrizuru Tower shares its name with the paper crane, a symbol of peace. Though the first floor is full of cafés and shops – some of which have a selection of Hiroshiman delicacies – the true highlight is the tower’s rooftop. The observation deck provides a spectacular panoramic view of the city’s expanses. On a clear day it’s also possible to spot the sacred island of Miyajima in the distance. Around the decks are reminders of the landscapes before and after the bombing, as well as the city’s recovery. [visual-link-preview encoded=”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”]
9 – MAZDA Museum
In 1920, the Mazda Motor Corporation was founded here in Hiroshima. The museum gives a view into Mazda’s history as well as a look at the technology of its cars and possible future developments. Unfortunately, the museum can only be seen as part of a guided tour which needs an advanced booking. During the tour, visitors can watch a real vehicle assembly line to watch the construction of their cars.