National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, Hiroshima

The National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims is an effort by the Japanese national government to remember and morn the atomic bomb victims. It is also an expression of Japan’s desire for genuine and lasting peace. Along with its counterpart in Nagasaki, the hall was designed  to convey the tragic disasters that occurred in these cities to people around the world and ensure that future generations will learn from these experiences.

The roles of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims are: to offer a ‘Hall of Remembrance’; register the names and photographs of atomic bomb victims; collect memories of those who were exposed to radiation; and advocate throughout Japan and the world the abolition of nuclear weapons. The memorial hall was designed by architect Tange Kenzo, who also designed the Peace Museum, Cenotaph and Flame of Peace.

About 350,000 people are estimated to have been in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. The bomb devastated nearly all administrative agencies and destroyed all documents. Thus, the exact number of deaths remains unknown and many victims were never identified. According to a document submitted by the city of Hiroshima to the United Nations in 1976 entitled “For the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and the Reduction of All Armed Forces and All Armaments”, an estimated 140,000 people died as a result of the bomb and its aftereffects between the 6th of August 1945 and the end of December that year.

The injuries inflicted by the atomic bomb appeared to be healing by the end of 1945, but a high percentage of those who seemed to be recovering later fell victim to a vast array of aftereffects, including keloid scars, leukaemia and other cancers. Since 1946, thousands of people have died each year, increasing the death roll to between 180,000 and 200,000, and the anxiety of many survivors continue.

A softy lit internal walkway leads into the cool, contemplative Hall of Remembrance. The walls of the Hall of Remembrance are covered with approximately 140,000 tiles, the number of victims who died by the end of 1945, and symbolically express the profound tragedy inflicted on Hiroshima.

Scenes depicted on the walls are a panoramic view from the former Shima Hospital, which stood at the A-bomb hypocentre, approximately 200 metres north from the Memorial Hall. Inscribed below are the names of the neighbourhoods of the Nakajima District, as they were at the time. In the centre of the hall is a small fountain, which represents the moment the bomb was dropped, while the water offers relief to the victims.

An adjoining room shows photographs of the victims and videos of the evocative testimonies from survivors.

Opening hours: 8:30 to 18:00 from March to November, 8:30 to 17:00 from December to February and 8:30 to 19:00 in August.

SOURCES:

  • Information signs in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall
  • DK Eyewitness: Japan
  • Wanderlust Pocket Guides – Best of: Japan
  • Lonely Planet: Japan

National Peace Memorial Hall for the Atomic Bomb Victims, Hiroshima

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