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Published: June 21st 2014
Just outside Hiroshima is the Shinto shrine Itsukushima, a shrine of such great importance that it is listed on the World Heritage List
From Itsukushima Shrine to the Atomic Bomb Dome
We are sorry to say this but it's got to suck to live in Hiroshima. Pretty much everybody in the world know about Hiroshima for one reason only, the city was once wiped out by an atomic bomb. Even though the atomic bomb is a central part of the history of Hiroshima there is more to that city than that. Hopefully this blog entry will make at least a few people aware of other places worth mentioning in and around one of the most well known cities in the world. But if you read this blog entry for the sole purpose of learning a bit more about what a piece of weaponry named Little Boy did to Hiroshima in the end of the summer in 1945 we will write a little about that too.
Just outside Hiroshima is the Shinto shrine Itsukushima
, a shrine of such great importance that it is listed on the World Heritage List. The shrine is located on an island south of the city easily accessible with either a ferry or tram from Hiroshima city centre. The most striking feature of the Itsukushima
The houses of the Itsukushima Shrine are built on pillars and are linked to each other by piers and boardwalks.
Shrine is the torii gate, a wooden structure standing in shallow water in the bay a hundred meters or so away from the main shrine.
Most buildings that make out the main section of the shine is not standing on solid ground. Instead the buildings are built on pillars rammed into the seabed and the buildings are linked to each other by piers and boardwalks. Some sections of the shrine are built on land. The most striking building of the land based part of the shrine is a five tired pagoda.
Many cities in Japan has a castle, Hiroshima is not an exception. When Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bomb in 1945 there was almost nothing left of the city centre. Hiroshima Castle
was located only about one kilometre away from the epicentre of the blast and none of the buildings survived. In the 1950-ies some of the buildings of the castle were reconstructed. Hiroshima Castle is not much different from other Japanese castles. But it does have one feature that few other castles are likely to have. Some of the buildings that in 1945 were turned into rubble were never reconstructed but the
The most striking feature of the Itsukushima Shrine is the torii gate, a wooden structure standing in shallow water in the bay a hundred meters or so away from the main shrine.
foundations of these buildings can still be seen. With a bit of imagination you can then picture what the place might have looked like before 1945.
Since Hiroshima Castle is only a short distance away from the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome, places likely to be on the agenda of most visitors to Hiroshima, it doesn't take long to walk over to the castle and have a look. After having seen atomic bomb related sites for a few hours it feels good to get away for a while and see something else. Hiroshima Castle is then a good place to go.
On August 6 1945 at quarter past eight in the morning Hiroshima was hit
by a previously unknown kind of weapon, an atomic bomb. One single bomb weighing 4.4 tons was all that was needed to blow away the bulk of the city of Hiroshima. In one blast roughly 100,000 people were killed either instantly or within a few days from burns, other injuries or radiation sickness.
In remembrance of the people who were killed they after the war created a peace park, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
, near ground zero. In the park
Main section of the shrine
Most part of the main section of the shrine is not standing on solid ground. Instead the houses are built on pillars
there are a large number of memorials, plaques and statues. Some of them are raised for the victims in general others to remember certain groups such as the Children's Peace Monument
or a monument over Korean citizens. It is thought that as many as 10 percent of the victims of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima were Koreans.
The Children's Peace Monument was inspired by Sadako Sasaki
. She was two years old when Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bomb. 10 years later she died from leukemia, an illness that might have been caused by the radiation she was exposed to in 1945 and in the years to come. The story of Sadako Sasaki's life and how she suffered from her illness is told in the novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
. When Sadako became ill she started to fold origami paper cranes. An old Japanese belief is that if you are ill fold a thousand paper cranes and the illness will go away. The folding of paper cranes didn't help. She folded more than a thousand of them and still died. But the cranes became a symbol for her struggle and also made the story of her life more interesting.
Us and the torii gate
Of course we had to take a photo of us in front of the torii gate. We are in Japan. There is probably a law or something that you have to stand in the pictures yourself
the compound there is also a mass grave containing the ashes of approximately 70.000 victims. Most of those victims are unidentified. In the first few days after August 6 dead bodies were hastily brought together in large funeral pyres and burnt to prevent diseases from spreading.
In one end of the Peace Park there is a museum, Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, and in the other end is the Atomic Bomb Dome.
The Atomic Bomb Dome
was before the war an exhibition hall and was the only structure near ground zero that wasn't flattened by the blast. When Hiroshima after the war was rebuilt the remains of the building was left as a reminder of the devastation caused by nuclear weapons. The symbolic value of the Atomic Bomb Dome was recognised by UNESCO in 1996 when it was added to the World Heritage List.
When we walked through the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
and saw all the various memorials there we felt that they were too many. There were around 50 different memorials and after seeing the first ten we had had enough. When number 20 was Monument to the Employees of the Hiroshima Post Office, number
We have no idea what is in these balls but they made for a good picture
30 was Monument of the Volunteer Army Corps and number 40 was named Monument for the A-bomb Victims from the Hiroshima Agricultural Association we could not really see the point anymore. The Peace Memorial Park should be a park for remembrance but instead it felt silly.
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