Kyoto has the most beautiful temples, and Tokyo has the Ginza. Yokohama has the walk by the bay, and Sapporo has the snow festival. However, Hiroshima for me is the most beautiful city in Japan. Walking the streets of this city and crossing bridges over its five rivers is an experience than is unmatched. The tranquility of the city stands in stark contrast to the violence of it modern birth. This experience is only compounded by realizing as an American your country and Japan shared the most violent encounter than any two nations ever. While strolling the streets with camera in hand, I never feel any animosity or bitterness that could so easily be expected.
The center-piece of the city is the Atomic Bomb Dome on the Aioi River. The shell of this building that survived that fateful day seventy years ago on August 6, 1945 marks the beginning of the Peace Park. The Dome’s crumbling walls may need some support now, but its austere beauty symbolizes both a reminder of the past and the promise of the city’s future.
Statue of Sakako Near Site of her School
Crossing the bridge of the Dome is the entrance to Hiroshima’s Memorial Peace Park. It is filled with people from all over the world, yet everyone walks with respect in this tranquil setting. After a few minutes walking on the right can be seen the Children’s Peace Monument in memory of Sadako Sasaki and the other children who perished .
Sasaki was a little girl when she was blown out of her bedroom window as the bomb struck. She survived that day, but ten years later in middle school she developed leukemia. While in the hospital, she heard of a Japanese legend that stated if one folded a thousand paper cranes, your wish would come true. She tried her best, but died several hundred cranes short. Her classmates immediately began to make up the difference, and she was buried with her thousand cranes. Each year young girls from all over Japan fold millions of cranes and bring them to the park to honor her and the other young children who died on that fateful day. A statue of Sadako is the centerpiece of the monument, and the wall behind it is replenished daily with new paper cranes brought by children from all over the world.
As you continue your walk through the park, you see the Cenotaph of Hiroshima: A cenotaph is a memorial to the dead who are physically buried somewhere else. .At the base of Hiroshima’s cenotaph is a stone vault containing the names of all who died as a result of the bombing.
This cenotaph was designed by Tokyo University professor, Tange Kenzo in the geometric shape of a hyperbolic paraboloid in 1952.At the granite monument’s base is a vault containing the names of all who died, and Its curves serve to protect these souls from the rain. On the monument is inscribed the epitaph: “Let all the souls here rest in peace; For we shall not repeat the evil.” The official name of the monument is “Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace.”