I had wanted to visit Hiroshima for many years in order to see where the world’s first atomic bomb was used against human beings. The bombs exploded on August 6, 1945, and the entire city rumbled and burned instantly, killing hundreds of thousands of people.
The green leaves in the park were beautiful when we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in early spring. Unfortunately, we arrived one day before the reopening of the Main Building, but we could see the exhibits and hear the story at the East Building.
Atomic Bomb Dome
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was built to display the facts of the atomic bombing and contribute to the abolition of nuclear weapons and the realization of lasting world peace.
Hiroshima before the Atomic Bombing
Hiroshima is a beautiful city nestled between lush green mountains and the Seto Inland Sea, with six rivers flowing through its center. The Ota River delta, which spreads into the sea, is protected by mountains on three sides and is well positioned for marine transport.
The Sino-Japanese War in 1894 furthered economic development and brought greater prosperity to the country. Hiroshima became the primary port of embarkation to mainland China for soldiers and materials, and various military facilities established and entrenched the city’s military character.
The museum guide explained that the targets for the atomic bombs were limited to four on May 11, 1945: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Kokura. The Atomic Bomb Committee decided that the atomic bomb should be used against a Japanese war plant surrounded by workers’ homes without prior warning.
Later, Kyoto was removed from the list because it had been the seat of the Imperial Court for centuries. On August 2nd, a final order was given specifying August 6th as the date of the bombing, and Hiroshima, Kokura, and Nagasaki were named as the potential targets. I was shocked to know that Kokura, my mother’s town, had been a target for the bombing at that time. Then, I learned that the weather in Hiroshima was clear on August 6th while Kokura was covered with clouds, sealing the fate of Hiroshima.
The atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It should be noted that two different types of atomic bombs were used for the two cities as an experiment. The fissionable material in the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was uranium 235, while the Nagasaki bomb used plutonium 239.
According to The Spirit of Hiroshima, a book published by the Museum, “The U-235 was kept in two pieces, each smaller than a critical mass. To trigger the bomb, a conventional explosive forced the two pieces together, instantly creating more than a critical mass (a gun-barrel bomb). The Nagasaki bomb used plutonium 239. A neutron source was placed at the center of a divided sphere of plutonium. This was covered by a reflector, with explosives wrapped around the periphery. When the explosives detonated, the plutonium in the sphere was hurled to the center, creating more than a critical mass (an implosion bomb).”
The damage inflicted by the atomic bomb caused instant and massive destruction, indiscriminate mass slaughter, and radiation. Furthermore, the radiation damage left by the bombs led to decades of human suffering.
After seeing many materials related to the bombing and hearing tragic stories, I felt pain and sympathy for the agony, suffering, and anger of A-bomb victims. At the same time, I learned that the US had had very advanced technology 70 years ago that allowed them to accurately drop the bombs on target cities. What were the Enola Gay pilots thinking at the time of the A-bombing?
Overall, I think the A-bombing was the manifestation of the determined arrogance of human beings. The U.S. developed the atomic bomb and wanted to accurately observe its effects.
In spite of the efforts of the survivors to tell of their A-bombing experience, the nuclear menace continues to threaten the world. It is the mission of the A-bombed city to spread the “spirit of Hiroshima” throughout the world. We only hope that people visit Hiroshima and share the conviction that nuclear weapons must never be used again.
How to get there from Tokyo:
Left Haneda Airport at 9:50 by JAL 257 and arrived Hiroshima Airport at 11:15.
Then we took a limousine bus to JR Hiroshima station where we had oyster cuisine.
First we visited Miyajima. We took JR train from Hiroshima to Miyajima-guchi,
where we took JR ferry to Miyajima to visit Itsukushima Shrine and walked around the area.
Next day, we visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the Peace Memorial Museum
and Atomic bomb dome.
Then we took a flight JAL 264 back to Tokyo.
Left Hiroshima Airport at 17:50 to arrive Haneda at 19:15