The central urban district in Hiroshima City is now crowded with people and is the most popular area in Hiroshima Prefecture. However, this is the same spot where the A-bomb was dropped on 6th of August 1945. Why don’t we take a walk in the city center to visit some of the historic places that show us how precious peace is?
Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
After a 10-minute-walk from JR Hiroshima Station, you will find the “Memorial Cathedral for World Peace” in a quiet part of the city with museums and colleges. This building was designed by Togo Murano, and is one of the representative modern structures of Hiroshima, as well as “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum” by Kenzo Tange.
This cathedral was built in 1954, in order to mourn victims of the A-bomb and also to pray for the realization of world peace. The person instrumental in the effort to construct it was Father Lassalle, who was also an A-bomb victim. His efforts as well as contributions from all over the world helped realize the construction of this cathedral, which took 4 years to complete.
Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
Address／4-42, Nobori-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Many people visit “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum” and “Peace Memorial Park” (including Atomic Bomb Dome) every year, and this combination was ranked as number 1 among the “Top 30 Attractions in Japan by International Travelers 2020” by the world’s biggest travel information website.
There are 35 monuments total in the park, including the “memorial cenotaph for the Atomic Bomb Victims” at which President Obama offered flowers as the first sitting American president to visit Hiroshima. Some other monuments are the “Peace Light” designed by Kenzo Tange, the “Children’s Peace Monument,” “the Hiroshima Peace Bell,” and so on.
This park holds the hopes and prayers for world peace made by so many people that it is a must-visit place for anyone visiting Hiroshima.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Address／1-2, Nakajima-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
Old Bank of Japan Hiroshima Branch
This western-style building, constructed with reinforced concrete and stone pitching, is obviously different in appearance from other office buildings along the street. This is “Old Bank of Japan Hiroshima Branch,” a rare historical building representative of the beginning of the Showa period (1926-1989) in Hiroshima. This building is still standing, even though it was damaged by the A-bomb.
The design of this building resembles an old museum done in the classical style based on the ancient Greek or Roman architecture. The A-bomb exploded just 380 meters away from here, however, the building wasn’t structurally damaged and its strong and stately appearance impresses us even now. The spacious hall built in the wellhole style, the counter and office spaces, the marble decorations in the former bank manager’s office are not to be missed.
Old Bank of Japan Hiroshima Branch
5-21, Fukuromachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
Rai Sanyo Historic Museum
“Rai Sanyo Historic Museum” is located right next to the Old Bank of Japan Hiroshima Branch. There are various materials related to Rai Sanyo, who is the author of “Nihon Gaishi” and was a famous Confucian Scholar during the Edo Period. You can see exhibits, and the living space and the tea house of Rai have been faithfully restored.
We would like draw your attention to the artwork drawn on the sliding doors in Rai’s living space. This artwork’s motif is the tree (kurogane holly) in the garden of the museum, which experienced the A-bomb explosion. Please look on both trees, in the artwork and in the garden, and think about world peace.
Rai Sanyo Historic Museum (Branch of Hiroshima Prefectural History Museum)
5-15, Fukuromachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
The Shingon-sect Temple “Tamon-in” is located at the foot of Mt. Hijiyama, which is also known for the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art (temporary closed due to the repair work until the spring of 2023). There is a grave of Rai’s family on the temple grounds, and also, the bell-tower has been preserved as it was when it survived the A-bomb attack. This bell-tower is the wooden building which was located at the nearest point to the blast center.
The bell which now hangs in the tower was re-casted with the sand from the attacked area on August 5th, 1949. This bell is called “the bell for a prayer at 8:15 a.m.” and the words “NO MORE HIROSHIMAS” are engraved on the surface. This bell is rung at 8:15 every morning (the time at which the A-bomb was dropped) with a prayer for world peace and to console the spirits of the A-bomb victims.
7-10, Hijiyama-cho, Minami-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
How about visiting these historic spots in the city center of Hiroshima, where you can think about world peace?
Hiroshima City is pretty compact, and many sightseeing spots are located in the center. You can visit many of them on foot in one day.
These buildings in Hiroshima have historic value in representing the culture of those days, and they are of course worth it to see. Please walk around and find them before or after a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.
Photographs and text by Akiko Isonaga
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