“Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British Grand Slam, which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare”.

These fateful words of Harry Truman, President of the United States, on August 6th, 1945 marked the first public announcement of the atomic bomb. 140,000 would die from the effects of the bomb in Hiroshima by the end of 1945, and many more from its aftereffects in the years that followed.

Our visit to Hiroshima was, as you might expect, heavily shadowed by touring the memorials, monuments and museum of this horrific event. But Hiroshima is a beautiful little city, surrounded by leafy hills. The Ota River splits into six branch rivers that cross the city on their way to the Seto Inland Sea. The rivers and the wide boulevards are lined with cherry, camphor and pine trees, mixed with occasional palm trees. The city seems hopeful, not sad or bitter. Its people have become advocates of everlasting peace for mankind, reminding us all of the preciousness of life. What follows are two tales of the city, Hiroshima.

The mushroom cloud on the left was at Hiroshima; on the right is the mushroom cloud at Nagasaki.

The mushroom cloud on the left was at Hiroshima; on the right is the mushroom cloud at Nagasaki.



Hiroshima in the bombsight   before release.

Hiroshima in the bombsight before release.



A flyover Hiroshima after the bomb had been dropped.

A flyover Hiroshima after the bomb had been dropped.



A model depicting Hiroshima right before the bomb was detonated.

A model depicting Hiroshima right before the bomb was detonated.



A model depicting Hiroshima right after the bomb was detonated.

A model depicting Hiroshima right after the bomb was detonated.



A model depicting Hiroshima right before the bomb was detonated.  The diameter of this model represents a distance of about 3 miles.  The bomb was detonated at the point of the red sphere.  On this scale, the bomb would be about 1/100 of an inch.

A model depicting Hiroshima right before the bomb was detonated. The diameter of this model represents a distance of about 3 miles. The bomb was detonated at the point of the red sphere. On this scale, the bomb would be about 1/100 of an inch.



Our first view of the area known as Peace Park which is near ground zero for the first atomic bomb used in war.  The building now known as the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome was the only structure left standing near the bomb’s hypocenter. The building was originally  completed in April 1915 and was eventually named the the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It was primarily used for arts and educational exhibitions. In 1996 this structure was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as a reminder of the horrors of the atomic bomb and a symbol of global peace.

Our first view of the area known as Peace Park which is near ground zero for the first atomic bomb used in war. The building now known as the Genbaku (A-Bomb) Dome was the only structure left standing near the bomb’s hypocenter. The building was originally completed in April 1915 and was eventually named the the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall. It was primarily used for arts and educational exhibitions. In 1996 this structure was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list as a reminder of the horrors of the atomic bomb and a symbol of global peace.



A plaque depicting the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before the atomic bomb exploded.

A plaque depicting the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall before the atomic bomb exploded.



In March of 1999, New York University announced its “Top 100 Works of Journalism in the United States in the 20th Century”. Hiroshima by John Hersey, topped the list. Originally published in New Yorker magazine, the book combines the broad perspective of the absolute devastation of the city with the intimate details of six individual lives. Hersey’s ‘New Journalism’ in which the storytelling techniques of fiction are adapted to non-fiction reportage gives the carnage a human perspective. We highly recommend it.

Author John Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize winning American writer born in Tientsin, China, to Protestant missionaries for the Young Men's Christian Association in Japan

Author John Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize winning American writer born in Tientsin, China, to Protestant missionaries for the Young Men’s Christian Association in Japan



The Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Cenotaph represents an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honor of the victims of the Hiroshima atom bomb.  The cenotaph carries the epitaph "安らかに眠って下さい 過ちは 繰返しませぬから", which means "please rest in peace, for [we/they] shall not repeat the error." In Japanese, the sentence's subject is omitted, thus it could be interpreted as either "[we] shall not repeat the error" or as "[they] shall not repeat the error". This was intended to memorialize the victims of Hiroshima without politicizing the issue, taking advantage of the fact that polite Japanese speech typically demands lexical ambiguity.

The Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Cenotaph represents an “empty tomb” or a monument erected in honor of the victims of the Hiroshima atom bomb. The cenotaph carries the epitaph “安らかに眠って下さい 過ちは 繰返しませぬから”, which means “please rest in peace, for [we/they] shall not repeat the error.” In Japanese, the sentence’s subject is omitted, thus it could be interpreted as either “[we] shall not repeat the error” or as “[they] shall not repeat the error”. This was intended to memorialize the victims of Hiroshima without politicizing the issue, taking advantage of the fact that polite Japanese speech typically demands lexical ambiguity.



The view toward the north from the Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

The view toward the north from the Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.



The view toward the south from the Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

The view toward the south from the Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.



The Children's Peace Monument is a statue dedicated to the memory of the children who died as a result of the bombing. The statue is of a girl with outstretched arms with a folded paper crane rising above her. The statue is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died from radiation from the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured. To this day, people (mostly children) from around the world fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue. The statue has a continuously replenished collection of folded cranes nearby.

The Children’s Peace Monument is a statue dedicated to the memory of the children who died as a result of the bombing. The statue is of a girl with outstretched arms with a folded paper crane rising above her. The statue is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who died from radiation from the bomb. She believed that if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be cured. To this day, people (mostly children) from around the world fold cranes and send them to Hiroshima where they are placed near the statue. The statue has a continuously replenished collection of folded cranes nearby.



An exhibition of minature paper cranes - dedicated to world peace.

An exhibition of minature paper cranes – dedicated to world peace.



An exhibition of minature paper cranes - dedicated to world peace.

An exhibition of minature paper cranes – dedicated to world peace.



An aerial view of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

An aerial view of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.



The flowers in Peace Memorial Park were stunningly beautiful.   Preparations were beginning for the Hiroshima Flower Festival which is held every May 3 - 5 in the Park. Underlying themes of the festival include sharing the brightness and dignity of life with all people.

The flowers in Peace Memorial Park were stunningly beautiful. Preparations were beginning for the Hiroshima Flower Festival which is held every May 3 – 5 in the Park. Underlying themes of the festival include sharing the brightness and dignity of life with all people.



Hiroshima has emerged from the ashes into a city of beauty.

Hiroshima has emerged from the ashes into a city of beauty.



The buildings glow from the sunset along one of the many rivers that flow through Hiroshima.

The buildings glow from the sunset along one of the many rivers that flow through Hiroshima.



The sun setting beyond the hills that surround Hiroshima.

The sun setting beyond the hills that surround Hiroshima.



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