Arguably the most significant event in modern history, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki served to shape postwar Japan into the nation it is today. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is an unapologetic look at the history that led up to and culminated in a catastrophic moment in the history of humanity. While the exhibitions may be harrowing for some, the museum offers a balanced and extraordinarily human outlook on the devastation wrought on Hiroshima and why the city was selected as a target.
From Hiroshima Station, take tram line 2 or 6 to Genbaku-Domu Mae. The tram ride takes 15 minutes.
The museum is part of the Peace Park which is located to the south-west of Hiroshima Station on an island separated from the mainland by the Ota and Motoyasu rivers. It is possible to walk to the museum from Hiroshima station in approximately 35 minutes.
From a tactical point of view, Japan's 2nd General Army, in charge of defending western Japan, was based out of Hiroshima Castle. However, as the castle was not singled out as the main target, the museum explores a far more cynical view as to why Hiroshima was chosen.
The city is famous for the rivers that cut through the city, running to the sea. It is alleged that allied forces aimed their experimental weapon at Hiroshima to see how the bomb would react to a drop-zone that was a combination of both solid ground and running water.
The results of the bomb are explored through original photography, lifelike models, artists’ impressions, recovered items and descriptive explanations. While the museum explores the pain of nuclear war, it does not shy away from Japan's own violent history, with an entire section dedicated to Japan's bloody campaign that cut a swath through Asia.
This honesty only adds to the palpable and sincere desire for pacifism that pulsates through the museum. The museum presents a view of the mistakes that we have all made, and sees only one clear path to securing a safer world for us all — a blanket ban on nuclear weapons worldwide.
Although remodeled and renovated in 1992 and 1994 respectively, the museum has been open since 1955, with the consistent goal of promoting peace in the hope that history not be repeated.
Since it first opened its doors, over 50 million people have visited the museum, and besides the exhibitions the museum features Peace Education Programs which include testimonies from survivors of the attack, volunteers offering tours of the Peace Park and even the loaning of videos and posters for educational purposes. Although the focus of the museum is the impact of the bomb, it steers clear of being morose, and instead focuses on being constructive, informative and inspirational.
Important Notice: The Main Building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum will be closed for renovations until spring, 2019. The East Building remains open to visitors.