The first day of my trip to Japan was spent traveling from Narita (just outside Tokyo) to Hiroshima via a Shinkansen. This ended up been great mode of transport since there there was a lot of countryside we got to see as well as some cities we would visit later in the trip.
Arriving at Hiroshima we found our hotel, the Grand Intelligent Design which was decorated in a completely ‘over the top’ manner I’m sure only Japan could pull off with suits of armour in the foyer, chandlers in the reception and generally been decorated everywhere to the extent you had to question if it was really necessary.
After settling in it was time to use what was left of the day day to explore the city a bit. So we took a bus to centre of the city to the peace memorial park and walked back to our Hotel visiting some of the shopping arcades along the way. We didn’t spend too long looking around the park through since we planned on travelling there the next day and all in all it was a really fun day and a great start to our trip.
The next day we headed back into the city to the Peace Memorial Park and visited the Peace Museum which was does a very good job of conveying the horror and scale of the atomic blast over Hiroshima in 1945. Walking though the museum the piece that really struck me as to the scale of the attack was a large diorama of the city set up in the middle of a room. This diorama (below) showed the only buildings that were left standing after the blast and in the centre of the city a red sphere representing the initial fireball. Looking and studying the diorama I started to realise certain landmarks such as the train station we came in, the location of some ruins, the peace park and finally the path we followed through the city the prior day all of which all were completely destroyed.
The rest of the exhibits were equally effective at portraying the magnitude of the blast ranging from bent steel I-beams, to the glass bottles that had been fused together from the intense heat and more macabre examples of the effects on the victims of the attack. What happened on that day in 1945 can be described as nothing short of horrific and I feel that it is a place you need to visit in order to fully appreciate the magnitude and loss of the city.
After our visit to the museum we got ice-cream (which helped to cheer me up a little) and walked through the memorial park where many were paying their respects to the victims of the attack at the various monuments scattered throughout the park. I must say to spite the destruction that took place in Hiroshima it was encouraging to see a beautiful city had been managed to be rebuild many years afterwards. The park was full of trees and foliage and a lovely river which juxtapose the remaining ruin, the A-bomb dome and memorials.
Before departing for our next destination we had one more stop to make in the city, Hiroshima Castle. Like most castles in Japan this one was (obviously) destroyed and rebuilt to match it’s predecessor. The castle grounds are quite expansive and gardens unsurprisingly very well maintained. The castle itself consisted of around 5 or so levels with a viewing platform at the top. As a whole the castles is setup as a museum with different exhibits on each level, some were dedicated to the history of the castle grounds while other focused on samurai suits/weapons and castle defences. Of the two castles I visited in Japan (the other been Osaka castle) I’d have to say that Hiroshima Castle I found the most interesting. In particular my favourite of the exhibits were on the construction of samurai swords and armour each of which the attention to detail is phenomenal.