After already experiencing the bullet train, and knowing how expensive it is we decided to find our way to Hiroshima down the local tracks of the JR railways. This halved the cost from £80 to £40 but the journey time skyrocketed from 1.5 hours to 6 hours. This we really didn’t mind and it was actually quite nice to just sit and watch the world go by catching up on blogging. We finally got to our Hiroshima hotel at 3pm so we quickly dumped our bags and headed out to see the Atomic Dome, the sole reason we wanted to go to Hiroshima. As you may be aware Hiroshima had the very first Atomic Bomb deployed as an act of war in 1945. The destruction was phenomenal, flattening all the buildings in a 2km radius. The dome managed to remain standing even though the northeast walls were obliterated.
Only the skeleton on the dome itself remains and the reason the skin is missing is astonishing. The dome skin was made from copper, copper melts at 1085°C so it doesn’t take a scientist to realise that the explosion must have reached well over 1000°C at the dome. The dome is 160m away from the epicentre, and 800m below where the bomb was dropped. The epicentre reached temperatures of 4000°C and 800m above, where the bomb went off, 1 million degrees centigrade! It’s actually this intense temperature change that expands the air rapidly and causes the 400 meters per second shockwave that bulldozed the city. Anyone standing outside and not under cover was instantly fried by the intense heat and then blown to dust from the shockwave. Bodies were found up to 7km from the epicentre killed by the intense heat but far enough away to escape the shockwave.
The Population of Hiroshima went for 400,000 to 200,000 in less than 5 seconds and many more would die from radiation poisoning. One child that died 10 years later from radiation was Sadako Sasakiyeas. She was only two when the blast hit, blowing her out of her house. When we was found she had no apparent injuries. However ten years later in 1955 she developed leukaemia and was not given long to live. She was hospitalised with a room mate who was two years older than her. The room mate told Sadako Sasakiyeas of a Japanese legend that anyone who folded 1000 origami cranes would be granted one wish and she taught Sadako how to fold paper cranes. It’s told that Sadako fell short of her goal and only managed to create 644 before she passed and that her room mate folded the remaining 356 cranes so that they could be buried with her. Sadako’s school friends decided to start raising money to commemorate her and all the other children that lost their lives that day. The memorial they funded is here today in the park and depicts Sadako holding a golden crane high in the sky. The memorial is surrounded by 1000’s of paper cranes that are made by local schools each year.
Aside from this statue there is a Large bell on a podium surrounded by water called the “Peace Bell”. Everyone is allowed to ring this bell and remember everyone who lost his or her lives that day. Its hard to get across in words the atmosphere around these memorials, it’s a heart wrenching place and one everyone should experience to really see what war can do. Taking a walk through the park comes highly recommend, there are more statues and monuments, to many to list here, that all have their own story. There seems to be an English explanation on every one. If only the food menus were the same. The official memorial for the atomic bomb is an archway that frames perfectly pruned conifer trees, (these represent prosperity in Japan for being evergreen) an eternally lit flame and the atomic dome in the background. It’s a shame that someone built an ugly building that encroaches on the scene but it is lovely and reminds me of a keyhole that I once looked through in Rome that frames the St Peters Cathedral. At the south end of the garden is the Museum and fountains. We decided not to do the museum, something I am sure we should have. This was only because we heavily researched the event before arriving and were limited on time. Hiroshima has a slightly different feel to than all the other cities in Japan that we have visited. It’s seems slightly more western and less traditional. This is probably because the whole city was rebuilt after the bombing and should not put you off visiting, we really enjoyed it. On the way back to our hotel we found ourselves walking down streets that could rival Dōtonbori. Sometimes the streets of other cities can feel a bit old and dirty, but this place was immaculate and there were some really interesting and beautiful shop fronts. One of which had three tiny kittens play fighting in the window, it was at this point that I realised I’d lost Hayley.