From the Edo period (1603-1868) through to the beginning of the Showa period (1926-1989) the area of the present-day Peace Memorial Park was known as the Nakajima District and included eight towns. The area claimed a long history as one of the leading shopping and entertainment districts in Hiroshima. Prior to the atomic bomb, it encompassed an estimated 1,720 households and 5,949 inhabitants.
On August 6th, 1945, the first atomic bomb in human history was detonated in mid-air, above the Shima Hospital, in Nakajima. In an instant, the district was destroyed and the land turned to scorched earth.
In the years following the war, plans were set in motion to transform the area into a memorial park, an embodiment of the people of Hiroshima’s wish for everlasting world peace. On August the 6th, 1949, the enactment of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law provided for the establishment of a Peace Memorial Park. A design competition was held, and the winner was a group led by Kenzo Tange.
The park is situated between the Honkawa and Motoyasu rivers, covering approximately 122,100 square metres and is dotted with over 50 memorials, statues and other commemorating structures. It is home to 1,200 donated trees, representing 40 species, from Japan and around the globe. Its central feature is the long, tree-lined Pond of Peace, which is flanked by the Cenotaph at one end and the Flame of Peace at the other.
The Cenotaph holds the names of all the known victims of the bomb and is inscribed with the words “Rest in peace. We will never repeat the error”. The Flame of Peace is set to burn until all the world’s nuclear weapons are destroyed. Looking through the Cenotaph and along the pond, visitors can see the Flame of Peace and the Atomic Bomb Dome. Directly behind the Cenotaph is the Peace Memorial Museum. The park was designated a National Place of Scenic Beauty in 2007.
By the northern entrance to the park is the Peace Bell, which visitors can ring, and the Memorial Mound, underneath which is a vault containing the ashes of tens of thousands of people cremated at the spot.
Every year, on the 6th of August, the Peace Memorial Park hosts the Peace Memorial Ceremony.
The park is situated within walking distance of Genbaku-domu-mae tram stop.
- Information sign in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
- DK Eyewitness: Japan
- Wanderlust Pocket Guides – Best of: Japan
- Lonely Planet: Japan