Historical Background: Hiroshima: Source: Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction
- The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. The Japanese were amongst the last to not surrender for the war
- 8:16 A.M, the bomb was dropped above Hiroshima (Southern Japan)
- The plane that dropped the bomb was named the Enola Gay.
- The A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had names (Fat Man & Little Boy)
- Ground Temperature when the A-Bomb dropped 7000 degrees Fahrenheit
- There were hurricane force winds that were 980 miles per hour
- The energy released was 20,000 tons of TNT
- 62,000 buildings were destroyed. The Genbaku Dome still remained standing. It’s a UNESCO site today.
- 70,000 people were immediately killed
- By the end of 1945, 140,000 people were dead
- Total Deaths related to the A-bomb: 210,000 people
- 3 days later after the Hiroshima bombing, the U.S. dropped another A-bomb on Nagasaki (August 9th) 70,000 people were immediately killed.
- The U.S. mapped out the area of where we would drop the bomb so we could do post war bomb recording. You can see many of these clips in a film called the Atomic Cafe (Dropping of the A-Bomb on youtube) Here is another clip on the testing of Atomic Bombs from the Atomic Cafe
- When the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, it essentially took a picture of shadows. There were actual photos of the shadows of people taken in a survey report by the U.S.
- Source: Shadow in Stone
- Women who wore kimonos which were made of silk found out that the silk burned onto their skin in the design patterns of their kimono.
- Birds flying in the sky, had their wings rip out and they fell to the ground with just the cartilage pieces in their wings but they were still alive.
Traveling to Hiroshima should be a must for every human being. The city itself is a living reminder of the terrible things that humanity can do to other human beings. We often get sucked into our lives and get upset about mundane things. After going through the museum and throughout the city of Hiroshima, it reminds you…and SHOULD remind you that we are lucky to live in this day and age. It’s very unsettling to also know that many people that are still alive today actually witnessed this time period in history. My grandmother from Japan being one of them. She lived in Ibaraki, Japan where she remembers areas north around Hitachi being bombed.
Traveling by Train to Hiroshima
As a foreigner, buy the Japan Rail Pass! So worth it. You can jump onto a bullet train easily. I do recommend that you try booking reserved seats though. This might be a little intimidating or scary, but if you know a friend who is Japanese, take them with you to the train station. The Rail pass is purchased at the point of sale in which country you are coming from. I buy my rail pass for usually a week. The rail pass activates upon your first use. You will need to carry around your passport and rail pass during travel times. For more info, click here. (Japan Rail Pass)
Where to Stay if you are on a Budget
I broke away from my mom and dad and took the bullet train to Hiroshima from Kyoto. It was the closest that I would be to Hiroshima. I tried to keep on a budget and looked for a safe and reasonable place to stay that also fit my needs. I was looking for a place close to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. I found the World Friendship Center. According to their website it reads:
World Friendship Center was founded on August 6th, 1965 (exactly 20 years after the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima), by Barbara Reynolds, to provide a place where people from many nations can meet, share their experiences and reflect on peace. A group of dedicated volunteers have continued Barbara’s vision of serving the Hiroshima community and guests to the city in a variety of ways to include:
A-Bomb survivor (Hibakusha) stories. Survivors volunteer their experience of August 6, 1945 and share their life experiences and visions for peace. (Activities tab)
Peace Park Guided Tours. Your Japanese Guide will provide a personal tour in English, for 1 or more visitors. (Activities tab)
This is what exactly I had anticipated for. I stayed at this specialty bed and breakfast and TOTALLY RECOMMEND IT. The room was about 3900 yen which is about $48.00 (check universal currency converter for the most recent exchange rate) This included a Japanese style tatami room (it was actually a small room used for a classroom) and had a futon, blankets, bathroom and shower. I was served a western style breakfast and there was internet. The guest house owners were English speaking. I had the room to myself and they do fill up quickly. A girl came last minute to find a room and I told her she could share it with me. She was thankful. The girl was from Poland. We exchanged stories about travel and I was happy to talk to her about her experiences in Europe.
Here is the address:
The bed and breakfast set up a tour for me with a local tour guide to walk around the city of Hiroshima. It was a fantastic tour and I believe she was a local Japanese volunteer. I highly recommend that you take this tour to familiarize yourself with the city and the events that took place. I did this before going into the Museum and I was very glad to do so. It made the museum more personal and I could empathize more with the events that took place.
My local tour guide. She was a native Hiroshima lady and she knew the subject inside and out. I cannot remember her name which is unfortunate, but she was full of knowledge and gave me so much insight into the city and the history.
Walking around the city with my tour guide there were many statues around. I didn’t get to find out what this statue was all about, but I liked the dragons on it.
It is hard to make out this statue, but it is of a turtle. Turtles and cranes in Japanese history and folkore symbolize longevity. Long live the souls of people who died in vain.
Walking around the city, you can’t help notice that the city has a lot of green spaces. They support nature here and you see a lot of trees and plants, unlike other cities in Japan. There definitely is an urge to promote peace in Hiroshim and nature goes hand in hand with peace.
It was a perfect coincidence that on one of the peace memorials a tombo (dragonfly) was sitting peacefully on the monument.
In this picture above, you can see the Genbaku Dome in the right hand side of the picture. One of the only few buildings left standing.
A tree still survives from the bombing. I can’t remember the whole story about this, but this particular tree is special. You can see a sign on it. This particular graveyard has many people that lost their lives or were affected by the bombing of Hiroshima. Japanese people pay their respect by cleaning the stones, bringing flowers and food for the graves. If you walk through, you will sometimes see offerings of fruit around particular holiday times. Veneration of ancestors is pretty typical in Asian culture. You will also see osenko (incense) burning if someone has just visited.
A picture of the A-Bomb Dome Memorial. This is a UNESCO protected building left “as is” to remind people of the past. It’s an interesting contrast to see the Genbaku Dome (A-Bomb Dome) with an modern building the back left corner.
Here is a photo that I took in the museum that shows real human hair taken from the day of the bombing. Apparently from primary sources that I have read, a lot of people’s hair started to fall off after exposure to the bomb. Also an intense thirst took place with many people. They looked for the closest water supply which was the lake. Upon drinking the water, people died quicker because of the intense amount of radiation.
Another effect that took place on innocent civilians was the development of “microcephaly” amongst babies. The picture of the museum panel explains it pretty clearly.
A mother with her daughter who had “microcephaly” In other instances, the A-bomb survivors (Hibakusha) had symptoms of sickness that were sporadic. Some of the A-bomb survivors would get sick at sporadic times. Still to this day, its unexpected when they get sick or not. I had a meeting with a Hibakusha on the day that I did this tour, but the person got sick. Medical testing was difficult because each person developed different symptoms and not at the same time.
Closer shots of the Genbaku Dome.
At the time I was viewing the Genbaku Dome, there was not a single person there. It was later in the day and it was pretty hot. I walked around in solace and felt the emptiness, sadness and trapped feeling of this place. There were homeless cats wandering around the Genbaku that were in bad shape. It was an eery feeling. The cats were in pretty bad shape which reminded me of how the people must have felt on this day.
Here is a picture of me in front of the Peace Memorial Cenotaph in the center of the city called Peace Memorial Park. You can see in the background the Genbaku Dome. The memorial was built as an ultimate symbol of peace as is one of the first monuments to be built. Many foreign dignitaries have visited this site on a yearly basis (August 6th) to honor this memorial and to remind the world to uphold peace. There is a part of the memorial that is in the center of the water that burns a single torch and never goes out.
This particular memorial is dedicated for children who lost their life. You can see that many colorful posters and folder origami are encased within the glass boxes. Many schools make pilgrimages here and contribute some of the items within the cases. In this sense, teaching kids about this topic and allowing them to see it is POWERFUL! It is our duty as teachers to promote peace to children and to keep talking about it.
A touching memorial dedicated towards the teachers that tried helping and saving children in the a-bomb disaster. Many of them died while trying to protect their students. Look at the overwhelming support and showering of the cranes (1000 in strands)
I can’t remember the significance of this statue, but I can kind of possibly figure it out. It appears that there is a girl and a deer. I think that this statue symbolizes life before the bomb. This particular region of Japan has lots of wild deer. I can imagine that there were a lot more back then. The only reason why I think this is a deer is because of my trip to Miyajima Island (close to Hiroshima) There were herds of wild deer walking around not being bothered by tourists.
A memorial that is also in Israel, Russia, France and Japan. This is the “Wall for Peace”, one of several that were created by the artist Clara Halter. I am lucky to have been to the one in France and this one in Japan. Every single word that you see is “PEACE” in many different languages.
Is this what we want for our future? A reminder as to what the bomb looked like when exploding. A real clock sits in the back that melted upon the A-bomb dropping. Let’s not repeat the past. People died in vain and it goes to show you how human beings can be greedy & destructive.
For more reading on this topic, please reference the following. TEACH PEACE!
- Clara Halter: Artist: Wall for Peace
- National Security Archive: Hiroshima
- Imagine Peace: Yoko Ono Exhibit at the Mori Art Museum
- Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Book) on Amazon
- Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies: 1988) Animation by Isao Takahata on IMDB
- Bostom.Com article on the Hiroshima Bomb (65 years ago)
- Documents relating to Hiroshima
- Maruki Toshi & Maruki Iri: Hiroshima Painters
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