Reflect on the Lessons of History in Nagasaki

See powerful reminders that peace must be preserved

Sometimes we must feel the weight of history in order to do better moving forward. Few cities in the world know this better than Nagasaki, which was where the United States dropped an atomic bomb on August 9, 1945. Today several sites in the city stand as a somber reminder of the horrors of nuclear war.

Begin your tour at the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum—located beside the very site where the bomb exploded—and learn about the history of nuclear weapons and the suffering of their victims, and give thought to what may be done to prevent such horrors from repeating. Next, visit the Nagasaki Peace Park and make a wish for world peace before the 10-meter-tall Peace Statue.

About 500 meters from the epicenter, you'll find the Urakami Cathedral, where a wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary that experienced the blast tells the tale of Nagasaki's bombing. Also see the single-pillar torii gate and camphor trees at Sanno Shrine, which miraculously still stand to this day. Finally, visit the ruins of Shiroyama Elementary School, a powerful and heart-rending site where you can learn about the too-young victims whose lives were claimed that fateful day.

Though the emotions evoked may not be pleasant ones, this is still nonetheless an enriching and engaging collection of monuments to the awful power of humanity. Leave plenty of time for moments of quiet reflection.